If you’re obtaining a puppy from a reputable breeder, they should have begun a lot of the socialization already, to sounds, people and objects. Talk to the breeder to find out how they raise the litter. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or even request a visit to the facility. If they refuse a visit, I’d be looking elsewhere for my puppy.
Below are some growth periods to take note of.
Human Socialization Period (7 to 12 Weeks):
The best time for going to a new home.
The pup now has the ability to learn respect and simple behavioral responses: sit, stay, come. Housebreaking begins. He now learns by association. The permanent owner/dog bonding begins, and he is able to accept gentle discipline and establish confidence.
Fear Impact Period (8 – 11 Weeks):
Try to avoid frightening the puppy during this time, since traumatic experiences can have a detrimental effect. As you can see, this period overlaps that of the previous definition and children or animals should not be allowed to hurt or scare the puppy, either maliciously or inadvertently. It is very important now to introduce other humans, but the pup must be closely supervised to minimize adverse conditioning. Learning at this age is permanent.
Also introducing your puppy to other dogs at this time will help him become more socialized.
Seniority Classification Period (13 – 16 Weeks):
This critical period is also known as the “Age of Cutting” – cutting teeth and cutting apron strings. At this age, the puppy begins testing dominance and leadership. Biting behavior is absolutely discouraged from thirteen weeks on. Praise for the correct behavior response is the most effective tool. Meaningful praise is highly important to shape a positive attitude.
Flight Instinct Period (4 to 8 Months):
During this period puppies test their wings. They may turn a deaf ear when called. This period lasts from a few days to several weeks. It is critical to praise the positive and minimize the negative behavior during this time. However, you must learn how to achieve the correct response. This period corresponds to teething periods, and behavioral problems become compounded by physiological development chewing.
Second Fear impact period (6 – 14 Months):
Also called, “The fear of situations period”, usually corresponds to growth spurts. This critical age may depend on the size of the dog. Small dogs tend to experience these periods earlier than large dogs. Great care must be taken not to reinforce negative behavior. Force can frighten the dog while soothing tones serve to encourage his fear. His fear should be handled with patience and kindness, and training during this period puts the dog in a position of success, while allowing him to work things out while building self-confidence.
Maturity (1 – 4 years) :
Many breeds, especially giant breeds continue to grow and physically change well beyond four years of age. The average dog develops to full maturity between 1-1 1/2 years and three years of age. This period is often marked by an increase in aggression and by a renewed testing for leadership. During this time, while testing for leadership, the dog should be handled firmly. Regular training is needed throughout this testing period. Psraise him for the proper response. Giving him no inroads to affirm his leadership will remind him that this issue has already been settled.
(sourced from ‘ Breeder Caretakers Index, USA. http://ice.ucdavis.edu/%7Erobyn/Korina/BCIdeas/Criticalperiodsinpuppydevelopment.html).
* If you think about guide dogs, the puppies go off to their foster homes until they are approx.12 months old, then return to the guide dogs facility and intense daily assistance training begins. They are then handed over to their forever home between 18months and 2 years old.
* It’s important to let your puppy BE A PUPPY. Socialisation is the most important training you can do for the first 6 months of the dog’s life. Make all new experiences positive by pairing the experience with food or toys.