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Puppies Developmental Learning Stages.

Updated: Jan 10, 2020

It's summer time and you got a new puppy just a couple of weeks before 4th of July and the annual summer family vacation.

Teachable Moments & When it is appropriate.

The new furry addition to the family is now about 14 weeks old but You got her when she was 7 weeks old. Potty training is going well with the occasional accident. But the puppy won't stop jumping on new people and biting at your hands.

The dog has no concept of the word No and She's knocking over the kids in an attempt to play.

What to do?

So now you consider dog training... Great idea. After checking a few places to get your dog trained in your local town. You attend the first class and get overwhelmed with embarrassment of how your furry child is acting.

Yes the puppy is young and immature.

But is it too early to begin dog training. I mean will the dog even remember this information?

The simple Answer is yes!

Your dog is literally is a sponge in the first couple of months and there is Scientific research to support it.

But wait theres more.

If you waited till your dog was 4 months old. The damage has been


Puppies want to learn what will please you. Just show them.

You are late to the game.

Your dog now has imprinted behaviors from her litter mates and conditioned behaviors from your family and environment.

Imprinting is the process by which your puppy learns the behaviors of a parent, other dogs, humans or other beings, and gains some of his basic socialization skills. By letting puppies spend at least 8 weeks with mom and littermates, and giving new pet puppies plenty of chances to make friends during their early months, you can ensure they grow up to be happy and well-adjusted.
Conditioning, in physiology, a behavioral process whereby a response becomes more frequent or more predictable in a given environment as a result of reinforcement, with reinforcement typically being a stimulus or reward for a desired response. ... They are based on the assumption that human behaviour is learned

So when is it appropriate for your dog to start learning? Here is a Breakdown of...

Critical periods in puppy development

  • Neonatal Period (0-12 Days):The puppy responds only to warmth, touch, and smell. He cannot regulate body functions such as temperature and elimination.

  • Transition Period (13 - 20 Days): Eyes and ears are open, but sight and hearing are limited. Tail wagging begins and the puppy begins to control body functions.

  • Awareness Period (21 - 28 Days): Sight and hearing functions well. The puppy is learning that he is a dog and has a great deal of need for a stable environment.

  • Canine Socialization Period (21 - 49 Days): Interacting with his mother and littermates, the pup learns various canine behaviors. He is now aware of the differences between canine and human societies.

  • Human Socialization Period (7 to 12 Weeks): The pup has the brain wave of and adult dog. The best time for going to a new home. He now has the ability to learn respect, simple behavioral responses: sit, stay, come. Housebreaking begins. He now learns by association. The permanent man/dog bonding begins, and he is able to accept gentle discipline and establish confidence.

Learning at this age is permanent. 8-11 Weeks

Fear Impact Period (8 - 11 Weeks):

Try to avoid frightening the puppy during this time, since traumatic experiences can have an effect during this period. As you can see, this period overlaps that of the previous definition and children or animal should not be allowed to hurt or scare the puppy -- either maliciously or inadvertently. It is very important now to introduce other humans, but he must be closely supervised to minimize adverse conditioning. Learning at this age is permanent.

This is the stage where you wonder if your dog is going to be a woosy butt all his life. Also introducing your puppy to other dogs at this time will help him become more socialized. If available in your area, a doggy day care is great for this.

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 positive attitude.

Flight Instinct Period (4 to 8 Months):

During this period puppies test their wings- they will 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 growths 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, and 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. Regulars training throughout this testing period, praise him for the proper response. Giving him no inroads to affirm his leadership will remind him that this issue has already been settled.

That is the breakdown of age appropriate exposure and what the brain can handle.

I never believe it is too early to help your animal adapt to your life.

Training should start before you get the dog. Just like a mother would train for her first born.

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