Canine Developmental Stages

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Canine Developmental Stages

Post  silvaheyes on Fri Jun 27, 2008 3:41 am

Canine Developmental Stages
written by Rachel Michak


Just like people, dogs go through developmental stages as they grow and mature. Understanding how your dog develops can help you better understand her training and behavior. You wouldn't expect 3rd grader to read let alone understand a college textbook, so you can't expect your 6 month old puppy to have the self-control of an adult dog.

Birth - 2 Weeks (Neonatal Period): All of a puppy's interactions are with her mother - she is responsible for food, warmth, grooming, safety, and comfort.

2 - 4 Weeks (Transitional Period): A puppy's eyes and ears open for the first time and in the blink of an eye the world opens up to her and enviroment begins to influence her. The images that form in a puppy's mind at this time will last her entire life. It is important that puppies do not have traumatic experiences during these first weeks of their life. Conscientious breeders will begin to gently handle the puppies to acclimate them to human touch and mild stress. Puppies will begin barking, growling, and wagging their tails. They notice humans for the first time and begin to play and interact with their littermates. Studies show that puppies can begin learning with positive reinforcement at as young as 3 weeks of age.

4 - 12 Weeks (Socialization Period): All of a puppy's senses are developed and coordination is fairly good (so housetraining can begin!). From 4 - 6 weeks, a puppy is primarily influenced by her mother and littermates and is learning how to be dog. She learns appropriate play skills, social structure, how to read body language, and how to use a inhibited bite. From 4 -12 weeks, a puppy learns to bond with humans (7-12 weeks being the usual time to aquire a puppy). Never adopt a puppy younger than 7 weeks old! Puppies need to stay with their mother and litter in order to learn appropriate social skills and behavior. Dogs separated from their mothers too soon often have serious behavior problems ranging from extreme fearfulness to aggression later in life. It is crucial that a puppy has good, positive associations with people and dogs during this time. Up until 20 weeks of age is considered a window of opportunity in a puupy's life. Experiences missed or social skills not developed now may be lost forever. Socializing your puppy with people, dogs, and situations is crucial to her being a confident, well-rounded adult dog.

3 - 6 Months (Ranking Period): During this period a puppy is primarily influenced by her playmates, which now include her new human family. Puppies will begin to use and show dominance and submission within their new household. At four months of age, puppies experience a fear period and will also begin teething, and as a result....chewing! You have probably started to train your puppy and she is learning quickly. Most puppies learn the "I do this behavior, I get a treat!" game very quickly.

6 - 18 Months (Adolescence): What happened? Almost overnight your cute wiggly little puppy has turned into a bossy, demanding teenager! This is the most trying time for puppy parents (most dogs surrendered to animal shelters are between 5 months and 3 years of age). Like human teenagers, you puppy will test limits and see how far she can push you. When last week your puppy came everytime you called, now she sits down and stares at you or worse, runs the other way. If your puppy is not already spayed or neutered at 6 months s/he will experience the beginnings of sexual behavior. Male puppies will start marking and escaping to look for potiential mates as well as possibly becoming more aggressive. Female puppies will also try to escape to look for mates as well as start to have messy heat cycles. Lucky you, you'll have canine would-be suitors lining up on your door-step. Spay or neuter early to avoid these headaches. At 7 - 9 months, puppies experience another chewing phase (and this time she is probably chewing holes in your sofa and ripping the siding off the house!). Hang in there and remember adolescence doesn't last forever - it only seems like it!

18 Months and older (Adulthood): When is your dog no longer a teenager but an adult canine? The answer for when most dogs reach physically, sexual, and emotional maturity is 18 months (a year and a half) but this is not a firm rule. Smaller breeds, especially Toys, tend to mature more quickly than larger breeds so your 1 year old Chihuahua may be an adult. Large breeds mature slowly. You can expect goofy, impulse-control impared, puppish behavior in your Labrador or Saint Bernard until she is two and a half or three years old (sometimes older). This can be difficult because your dog has puppy brain in an adult body. Some breeds, like Pit Bulls, mature very slowly often not being completely matured until four or five years old. The downside of this? When they do hit maturity, their silly puppy behavior can be replaced with some not-so-appealing behaviors that you may wish you saw coming a little sooner.

So when is the best time to start training you dog? When you adopt or buy you dog, start from Day One teaching your dog what you want him to do. If you've had your dog a while, start training now. A dog is never too old to learn new good behaviors.

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Re: Canine Developmental Stages

Post  jesscot09 on Tue Sep 29, 2009 7:48 am

Hello,

The story you have written about dog life cycle is very impressive. Its truth that , there is no time to decide-

when should the training start ? Whenever you start the training that will be the right time.


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