The most influential period of a puppy’s life. Puppy’s are most accepting of new experiences and that learning will last cognitive and emotional impressions. Can be divided into two periods

  • Primary Socialization (3 to 5 weeks)
  • Learn to communicate with other dogs through play
  • Bite inhibition begins
  • Most inclined to interact with humans
  • Removing puppy from litter at this time can result in behavior disorders
  • Separation anxiety
  • Compulsive disorders
  • Fear
  • Aggression

Secondary Socialization (6 to 12 weeks)

  • Social skills and adapting to human world
  • Positive proactive socialization can begin, safe and controlled environment
  • Learn to interact and receive rewards from humans play between to teach and interact appropriately
  • Fear period can also occur within this stage

Fear Period (approximately 8 to 10 weeks)

  • More sensitive to traumatic and negative events
  • Exposure to aversive stimuli have long lasting results, difficult to reverse
  • Crucial to avoid incidents that generate fear or intense negative emotions
  • Shipping puppies – to new home, air travel, car travel
  • Promote positive vet visits

Juvenile (12 weeks to 6 months) 

  • Becoming more independent
  • Will start to wander off and explore world
  • Permanent teeth
  • Adult-like motor skills
  • Social relationships with other dogs become stable
  • Showing less tolerance for unfamiliar change
  • Continues to gradually develop

Adolescent ( sexual maturity to social maturity)

  • Learning still taking place, most socialization is done
  • Physical and mental exercise, positive training and management, crucial in adolescents
  • Positive proactive socialization should continue throughout dog’s life
  • Some dogs experience a second fear periods – to both familiar and unfamiliar  stimuli
  • Behaviors that humans found “cute” more likely to become unacceptable

Adult (social maturity to approximately 8 years)

  • Dog is “settling down”
  • Desire to play with unknown dogs reduces
  • Dogs are still learning:
    • Operantly – consequences of their behavior (good and bad)
    • Classically – forming associations with things they encounter throughout their life.
  • Life experiences continue to impact dog’s cognitive experience (problematic behaviors can develop at any age)
  • Positive training and socialization should be continuing through adulthood

Sweet Senior

  • Most dogs are considered seniors around 8 years of age, but there’s so much to consider in the onset of cognitive and physical signs of age from breed to breed 
  • Other physical changes can include reduced hearing and visual acuity, and arthritis
  • Mental and physical exercise through training, play, fitness, and other activities should continue 
  • Keeping up on regular medical care is extremely important 
    • Veterinarians can catch and help with pain management and other problems
  • Dogs can develop canine cognitive dysfunction, similar to dementia in humans