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When your pup is growing up, it’s important that you are aware of the critical socialization periods that they go through. There are three main socialization periods in dogs:
1. 3 to 7 weeks old. During these few weeks, your pup learns to interact with his mom and littermates, and to understand doggie communication. Pups that are removed from their litter during this period can develop behavioral problems. It is recommended that pups don’t leave their littermates until they are 8 weeks of age.
2. 4 – 12 weeks old. This is a critical period for your pup, where their mind is more pliable, and they learn to accept different people, places, smells, sights and sounds. It is critical that your pup is exposed to as many different situations as possible, in a positive and relaxed manner. This is when pups usually attend puppy pre-school classes. The period from 8 – 12 weeks is the ideal time to re-home a pup, because they are best able to adapt to their new family.
This is also the first “fear period” in a pup’s development, so any scary events will have a huge impact. Make sure all your pup’s experiences in this period are good fun.
3. 6 to 14 months old. At this age, your “teenage” dog may be resistant to trying new things, or exploring new situations. They may even be nervous of things they are very familiar with.
It’s important that you don’t force your dog into situations they are afraid of, because that can make their nervousness worse. Similarly, don’t mollycoddle them and soothe them too much, because this will make them think there is really something to be afraid of. Treat them kindly, and with a matter-of-fact attitude, and they’ll safely come out the other end.
In Summary – If you learn to recognize these periods and manage them well, your pup will have the best chance of growing up to be a confident, well adjusted dog.
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