Posts Tagged ‘development’

Puppy Development & Socialization

Just as with young children,  dogs go through specific developmental stages as they mature and by 16 weeks the pups personality is pretty much established.    Knowing about these stages and at what age they occur can help caregivers avoid  personality issues  and mold  a pup that  is stable,  predictable, well balanced   and that will become a true contribution to  the family.       Failure to expose the pup to certain critical experiences during these developmental stages or a trauma or a frightening experience at a critical age can produce personality issues that continue through adulthood.   Although behavioral training can help alleviate such personality problems some may never become completely trust-worthy and may be a dangerous liability under the wrong circumstances.  So if you are  now or will be soon raising a young pup, play careful attention to the critical periods of development listed below:

NEONATAL  Stage: Birth to 2 weeks.   Puppy needs warmth, food, and massage.

TRANSITIONAL  PERIOD: 3RD week.    Ears and eyes open.

SPECIES IDENTIFICATION PERIOD: Week  4:    This is the stage of when the pup may imprint of on the mother, littermates and humans.    It is very detrimental to remove pups from the mother and the natural weening process at this time.  Mother dog initiates weaning process by regurgitating food.

CANINE  SOCIALIZATION  PERIOD: 5-7 weeks.   Interactive play with littermates essential at this time if pup is to become properly socialized.   It is the beginning of the pup learning discipline.  Pup begins to learn to moderate biting and control aggressive behavior.

SKILL  DEVELOPMENT  PERIOD: 7 weeks to 6 months.    Pups learns  pack discipline and survival behavior.    This includes learning to hunt from the adults in the pack.

CENTRAL NERVOUS SYSTEM DEVELOPMENT: EEG brain waves convert to those of an adult dog at 49 days of age.

FIRST FEAR IMPRINT PERIOD: 8-10 weeks .   Fright or  trauma produces permanent personality damage during this time.  Avoid placing pup in severe stressful situations if possible.      Unfortunately this is the most common time for the puppies first vistit to the veterinarian.

SECOND FEAR IMPRINT PERIOD: 6-9 months .  This is the adolescent period.   Unfortunately this is the most common time for castration and ovariohysterectomies to be performed.

SOCIALIZATION PERIOD: 5-16 weeks.    Expose pup  often to as many new people and situations as possible.

LATEST AGE FOR SOCIALIZATION: Past 16 weeks pup  will no longer include others as part of her kind.

OPTIMAL LEARNING PERIOD: 7-12 weeks.   Best time to start obedience training because pup is very open to being taught new things.   Such training is very likely to remain and not be forgotten.

BONDING BEHAVIOR: 8-12 weeks.   Providing earlier imprinting has occurred the pup will bond emotionally to the pack which includes his or her people.    The pup begins to learn subordination.

DOMINANCE ORDER ESTABLISHED: 12-16 weeks.   Litter dominance order established and practice for adult ranking in pack.  This is the time the  teeth begin to appear.

PACK FORMATION PERIOD: 4-6 months.  Pup reaches adolescence and begins determining pack position.   Pup may become rebellious and the pup must be controlled and taught that the human is the pack leader.

ONSET OF PUBERTY: 14 weeks.    Lots of hormonal changes occurring.   Breeding ability comes at 5 to 7 months.

LEARNING FUNDAMENTAL CANINE SOCIAL SKILLS: 3-7 weeks.    If pup does not spend enough time with mother  and litter mates  or he or she will be unable to properly socialize with other dogs and on occasion with people.

DEVELOPMENT OF SELF CONFIDENCE : 4-16 weeks.     If pup is exposed to a variety of circumstances he or she will develop important coping skills necessary for the dog to be predicable and stable.

ADOLESCENCE TO MATURITY: 14 weeks to 2 years.   Flight instinct develops early in this period so it is important to teach dog to come when called before 14 weeks of age.


Woodside Animal Clinic is a unique, very personal, one doctor practice where, for over 35 years, Dr. Simon has been healing dogs, cats, birds, rabbits, ferrets rodents, and reptiles with both traditional and alternative medicine. Dr. Simon is certified in Acupuncture, Chiropractic and Stem cell therapy. He is the author of 4 pet care books, a past president of the Oakland County Veterinary Medical Association and past board member of the  American Holistic Veterinary Association.   Visit us at

Woodside Animal Clinic sees pets from all over Michigan but primarily from the greater Detroit area including Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, Livingston and Washtenaw counties. Cities in these counties include:  Royal Oak, Berkley, Huntington Woods, Ferndale, Pleasant Ridge, Detroit, Redford,  Allen Park, Romulus, Trenton, Livonia, Hazel Park, Madison Heights, Warren, Centerline, Clawson, Troy, Sterling Heights, Southfield, Birmingham, Lathrup Village, Bingham Farms,  Franklin, Farmington, Farmington Hills, Novi, Northville,Wixom, Brighton, Livonia, Plymouth, Commerce, Ann Arbor, Ortonville, Clarkston, Waterford, Union Lake, Rochester, Rochester Hills, Auburn Hills, Utica, White Lake, Grosse Pointe, Romeo, Swartz Creek,  Shelby township, Washington,  Flint, Hartland, Lansing, Okemos, Howell, Brighton, White Lake, Romeo, Saline, South Lyon, Battle Creek, Saginaw, Windsor Canada, Toledo Ohio