Developmental Stages of Puppy Behaviour
Your puppy will need appropriate and regular socialisation in order to grow into a well adjusted dog. The below information explains the different stages puppies go through as they grow.
Puppies can do little more than touch and taste at birth. Newborn puppies feed every two-three hours and spend ninety percent of the time sleeping. Their mother is responsible for their toileting. During the first two weeks they learn some simple social skills, some coordination and the ranking process.
Between two and four weeks the puppies eyes open, they stand and walk. Their sense of hearing and smell develops. Tail wagging, teething and the ability to bark develops. They now toilet themselves.
The developmental tasks of this period all involve learning appropriate social behaviour with other dogs. Interaction with mother and siblings teach bite inhibition, appropriate submissive and attention soliciting behaviour, attention receptive behaviour and general confidence with other dogs.
By five weeks puppies are aware of their surroundings and start to really enjoy playtime. Good experiences with people play a large role in how puppies will continue to interact.
This is the best age for forming strong bonds with people. Puppies are mentally mature enough to adjust to changes and to begin their training in manners.
This stage is often referred to as the “fear period”. The puppy is especially impressionable now. Object associations formed during this period leave indelible imprints. It is vital that the puppy have as many positive experiences with people, other animals and novel situations as can be arranged.
It is equally vital to avoid painful or scary experiences until after eleven weeks. Those mildly unpleasant experiences that can’t be avoided (like puppy shots) should be turned into positive ones by your reaction. Always jolly up a scared puppy by laughing, praising the puppy and treating the event as a game. Never give the appropriately human empathetic response of soothing reassurance, as this convinces the puppy that it must be really awful since you’re upset too.
This is the perfect time to enrol in Puppy Preschool! They teach you how to teach your puppy to learn. It is also a wonderful socialisation experience. Make sure all training sessions are fun and successful. Take advantage of the puppy’s dependence on you and strong desire to be near you as you teach him/her to “come”.
Reward is a far better learning tool than punishment. Get your puppy out into the world and expose him/her to as many new things and experiences as possible.
This is often called the pre-adolescent period and is characterised by a gradual increase in independence and confidence. The puppy will venture further and further from your side, motivated by his/her own curiosity and increasing confidence in the world.
While continuing to train your border collie, it is now time to incorporate distractions into your practice sessions. This is an important bond forming period. If possible, take your puppy everywhere!
6 - 12 Months:
During this “hairy” period, the young dog’s need for stimulation, companionship and activity are very high and his/her tolerance for boredom and inactivity are very low.
This is the period in which sexual maturity will be reached and testing behaviours may emerge. Avoid situations in which your dog’s occasional lapses in obedience could have harmful results, such as off leash work in an unsecured area. Continue to provide safe opportunities for vigorous play and exercise and safe toys to occupy teeth and mind when occupied. This is not the time to expect model behaviour!
12 - 18 Months:
Somewhere during this period (or a little later with some) your dog will reach emotional maturity. At that time, dogs with tendencies towards dominance will begin to assert themselves, hoping to raise their status in their pack (your household). This behaviour occurs within a structure of familiar relationships and only when the dog is approaching emotional maturity. It may be play dominance or feed time dominance. This does not mean you need to “conquer” your dog or stop attempting to control him/her. A firm and completely consistent approach is all that is usually required.