Socialisation is one of the most important factors when bringing up a dog. Correct socialisation is even more important. Correct socialisation means regular interaction with other dogs, traffic, and humans of all shapes and sizes and different sights and sounds from a very early age. A well-socialised dog is a happy dog.
The first two to fourteen weeks of a puppies life are the most important, during this time she will make the transition from a blind helpless animal into what is known as the transitional period, followed by the socialisation period at four to twelve or fourteen weeks.
0-2 weeks.This is known as the neonatal period, the eyes are fused closed, and the ear canal is sealed, the pup has a strong sense of touch, especially on the head, and mum will encourage the pup to feed. Studies have shown that stress in the form of careful early handling by the breeder is good for the emotional development of the puppy, making them better able to cope with stresses in later life. It is suggested that the puppy will mature mentally faster, and be better at problem solving when older. As well as this studies have shown that it enhances growth, and help increase their resistance to disease. Of course too much handling at this time is equally damaging to the neonate, and will have the opposite effect.
2-4 weeks. This is known as the transitional period, a very important period of development, eyes and ears will open, pain responses develop, teeth come through and the pups start to interact with their mum. The pup will become more aware of her surrounding and her littermates (if there are any). Tail wagging will start, growling and barking begins, and her brain is developing at a great rate. She will be startled by loud noises, which will cause her to jump. During this period the pups will suckle from their mum without being reminded by her. This is the beginning of the most important period of a pup’s life.
4-12 weeks. This is the first ‘true’ socialisation period, by this time most of the pups senses have matured, she can now see, hear, smell, and touch well, her brain has developed and she is able to process information her brain receives quickly and efficiently. Pups play and interact with each other, their mother and people. This is the period where habits for life develop. By this time the pup has the faculties of an adult dog, though she is need of ‘fine tuning’. Male puppies will have experienced a surge of the male hormone testosterone, and may begin acting in a masculine way, perhaps mounting other pups in the nest. Mum will leave her pups for longer periods, and they will not always be able to suckle when they choose to. She will usually start to gently discipline pups for rough behaviour so they are learning response and consequences, she will often dominate them to teach them submission. We can spend more time with the pups, handling them more, as they learn further human bonding. The pup responds with tail wagging, she recognises our smell, and voices.
Learning through play comes into force now, during play the pup learns acceptable adult behaviour, they learn they can manipulate other puppies behaviour, and ours.
Play teaches action patterns, co-ordination, safe exploration, timing and intervention, and it develops the puppies mind.
Socialisation and development from twelve weeks, into the Juvenile period through to adolescence
From around twelve weeks of age the puppy enters into what is known as the juvenile period. This is the period of time between socialisation, and puberty. During this time the puppy is improving his skills, strength, and activity. Although the pup still has a relatively short attention span, it is starting to increase, and he will be able to concentrate for a little longer. He is becoming increasingly independent. It is during this time that the pup will have his vaccinations and first walk. He will begin teething, and his second teeth will come through – this is when chewing will probably start.
We think it is better to try to collect your new puppy over the weekend or during a holiday so you can devote plenty of time to your new family member. Training and socialising should begin as soon as your pup comes home.
Training can be broadly divided into three parts,
* Basic socialisation
* Basic training for obedience
* Show training
The basis of any training is to win the puppies confidence. You must be the top dog or the dominant one right from the very start of the relationship. He needs to know what NO means, and what is, and is not allowed.
When your puppy comes to your home he is placed into a very stressful situation, probably the most stressful time of a dogs life, at this age the pup is at the height of receptiveness to people and other dogs, so it is essential to be firm, but gentle. Bear in mind that your new puppy has come into a new environment, and has lost his littermates. In this sense, it will be the first time he has been ‘on his own’- he may not be house trained so this is going to be one of the first tasks.