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The Critical Development Stages of a Puppy
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From the age of 5 weeks puppies begin to growl to get food.
The puppy is now considered emotionally developped and ready to learn.  What it learns during this period will be retained and become part of its personlity as an adult dog.
5 to 7 weeks: the Canine Socialization period
6 weeks old bulldog puppies
Hurricane bulldog litter 6 weeks
Puppies should not be weaned during this period.  They may be supplemented at three weeks of age, but it should be left to the mother how much nursing is done.  A puppy removed from the litter during this period may become overly noisy or aggressive.  However, if it remains (exclusively) with the litter and the mother after the 7th or 8th week its emotional development will be hampered and it will develop bullyish or cowed tendencies which will remain into adulthood.
This is the best time to transfer a puppy to its new home. At 8 1/2 weeks the puppy defecates in specific spots, usually at a distance from its eating and sleeping area. 
7 to 9 weeks: Human Socialization period
9th to 12th week: Fear impact period

In large breeds this period could extend longer, since it is tied to sexual maturity.
This is an important period to teach your puppy to fetch, especially for working dogs.  A puppy that is not taught or refuses to learn to fetch will never be able to become a detector dog or a guide dog later on.

13th to 16th week: the Hierarchization period

During this critical period the absolute authority of the   owner will be challenged.  The puppy will make its first attempts ro rebell  and establish itself as the dominant being in the hierarchy (family).  If the puppy is allowed to get away with it now, the confidence in and respect of the owner that developed during the previous period will be lost for ever.  It can't be stressed enough how important it is not to reinforce this behavior through confusing signals.  A common mistake among new dog owners is for example the habit of feeding the dog before the family have its meal ("so he will not bother us while we eat").  In the "pack" the dominant dog is the first one to eat, so feeding your puppy first means recognizing him as the dominant member of your family!

4 to 8 months: the "Flight" period:

This is the period when your puppy thinks it doesn't need you anymore and shows interest to wander in the outside world.  Again it can't be stressed enough how important positive reinforcement and negative reinforcement may be at this stage.  If your puppy wanders around don't punish it when you call it and it happens to come back.  It will immediately associate coming back with punishment and chances are low that it is ever to become obedient that way.  Never, ever, call a dog before punishing it!  On the contrary, always think of having  a reward (cookie) you can give your dog when it comes back.  This positive conditioning is extremely effective and as soon as your dog will hear you call its name, it will associate this with the potential reward and will come back and check on you.


Puppy Development - Joel Dehasse (Behavioral Veterinarian)
Dehasse, J. (2002) L'Education du Chien. Editions du jour.
Dehasse, J. (2002) Le Chien agressif. Publibook
Dehasse, J. (2002) Mon chien est-il dominant. Montreal: Editions de l'homme.
Dehasse, J. (1993) L'Education du Chien - de 0 à 6 mois. Montreal: Editions de l'Homme.
Fox, M.W. (1978) The dog; Its Domestication and Behavior. New York: Garland Pub., p. 141-176.
Scott J.P., Fuller J.L. (1965) Dog Behavior: The Genetic Basis. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.
Stages of Development that Your Puppy Endures - Von Stallog Rottweilers
Critical Periods in a Puppies (sic) Development
The new owner must take these socio-ecological conditions into account: he must limit the space available when the puppy is not under human control and provide the adequate elimination medium placed at the right location (at a 2-3 meter distance from where the puppy eats and sleeps).  Puppies should be walked at regular intervals during this time and taught to eliminate in gutters or other proper sites before the age of 15 weeks.  Indeed, clinical research shows that puppies limited to one spot and one medium until the age of 15 weeks (for example, kept inside the house and taught to eliminate on newspapers) will often resist learning to use other media and locations (conditioning) and will retain themselves for hours when walking outside until they can eliminate on their preferred medium and spot.