When you bring your puppy home it is important to realize that your puppy is going through critical developmental stages. These stages are where the puppy’s personality, character and traits, are developing. This training will greatly impact the future of your puppy as he grows into a dog.
Scientific studies show that there are five developmental stages that a puppy goes through. These stages are important and should be handled correctly. Let us look at them so as to have a better understanding so we all can do our best to have a well balance dog.
Phase 1 –The First 21 Days
In the first few days, the puppy starts out with a mental capacity that is basically zero. The puppy reacts only to its primary needs of warmth, food, sleep and his mother. From birth, puppies are able to use their sense of smell and touch, which helps them root about the nest to find their mother’s scent-marked breasts. The first milk the mother produces, called colostrum, is rich in antibodies that provide passive immunity and help protect the babies from disease during these early weeks of life.
The first two weeks of a puppy’s life it sleeps nearly 90 percent of the time. It’s waking time is spent nursing. All its energy is funneled into growing and its birth weight doubles the first week. Newborns are not able to support their weight and swims (crawls) about with paddling motions of their front legs. The limited locomotion provides the exercise that develops muscles and coordination. Soon the puppies are crawling over and around each other and their mother.
During the first three weeks here at Sunset Goldendoodles only one person, usually Julianna, handles the puppies. This way the puppies are able to know their human mom and the start of their human family. However, mostly the first four weeks we allow the canine mom the time to educate her pups as canine. This is very important for their emotional development.
Weeks two to four is often called the transitional period. The second week of life brings changes for the puppy. Ears and eyes sealed since birth begin to open, ears at about two weeks and eyelids between 10 to 16 days. This gives the babies a new sense of their world. They learn what their mother and other dogs look and sound like. They begin to expand their own vocabulary from grunts and mews to yelps, whines and barks. Puppies generally stand by day 15 and take their first wobbly walk by day 21.
By the 21st day ALL of the puppy’s senses begin to function. These senses have been there but lay dormant. The 21st day is an awakening.
The fourth week we do Puppy Stimulants. This not only prepares the puppy for stressful situation but also enhances the intellectual abilities.
Phase 2 – days 21-28
The puppy needs its canine mother during this period more than any other time. The brain and nervous system begin to develop. They become aware, and rather frightened at their surroundings. Taking a puppy away from his mother at this point will directly affect his emotional and mental growth permanently.
The puppy is learning that it is stressful now to be alive. Any bad experiences during this phase can greatly impact the dog later in life. Beginning at four weeks of age the mother’s milk production begins to slow down just as the puppies’ energy needs increase. As the mother slowly weans her babies from nursing the puppies begin sampling solid food in earnest.
This is the time that we at Sunset Goldendoodles start the weaning process, around the 4th week. We feel that doing so before would not be beneficial for the emotional well-being of the puppies. We do a gradual weaning, just as the canine mother would do.
An abrupt weaning is not good for puppies or the canine mother. We also take over the canine training, integrating the human training, and bring in the canine Aunties to assist further in the canine training. This is a fun time here at Sunset Goldendoodles.
Phase 3 – 5th – 7th weeks
Here is where puppy begins to explore, move a bit farther from his mother and litter mates. Learning begins here. They begin to growl, play, challenge, and learn discipline from his mother. They also develop a bit of a competitive spirit.
Training ability is developed and pup is ready to begin learning. Puppy teeth begin to erupt until all the baby teeth are in by about five to six weeks of age. Puppies can control their need to potty by this age and begin moving away from the sleeping quarters to eliminate. The most critical period – age six to eight weeks – is when puppies most easily learn to accept others as a part of their family.
The environmental stimulation impacts the puppy’s rate of mental development during this time. The puppy brain waves look like that of an of an adult dog by about the 50th day, but he is not yet programmed – that is the job of the human trainer, and the job of his mom, siblings and other canine family members.
Beginning the fourth week here at Sunset Goldendoodles, we integrate all the different human family members into the pack. This is also the time when future puppy owners will be allowed to socialize with the puppies. (We have strict safety and health rules in play; however, all who adhere to them are welcome to participate.)
Potty Training Begins
The fourth week begins potty training. They are taught, just as the mother canine would teach, to sleep in one area, eat in another and potty in the potty box. Usually in two days they have the routine down. They will learn that while they can play and bite each other they are not allowed to bite a human during playtime (or any other time). Plus they will learn not to jump on the human family members.
Phase 4 – 8th – 12th weeks
Leaving Mom & Heading Home
Since the pup is now ready for learning experiences, this is the appropriate time for a pup to leave his litter and go to his (or her) new home and begin training and learning with a new family. This is the phase where the puppy learns at an extremely fast rate.
However, it is during this period that puppies often go through a “fear period.” Instead of meeting new or familiar people and objects with curiosity, they react with fearfulness. Anything that frightens them at this age may have a lasting impact, so take care that the baby is not overstimulated with to many changes or challenges at one time. That does not mean your pup will grow up to be a scaredy-cat; it is simply a normal part of development where pups learn to be more cautious. Careful socialization during this period helps counter fear reactions.
We here at Sunset Goldendoodles encourage new owners to have the puppy’s training program well in mind. Some hire a canine trainer to come to their home to teach them how to train. Some owners have learned ahead of time what they need to do and immediately begin their puppy on this program. We have much information on the website about training. We are here for our owners when they need any coaching along the way.
Some say that puppies can be placed in new homes once they are eating well on their own. However, they will be better adjusted and make better pets by staying and interacting with litter-mates, Mom-dog, Dad-dog and all the other Aunt and Uncle-dogs until they are at least eight weeks old. Older is never a bad thing. Interacting with siblings and other canines help teach bite inhibition, how to understand and react to normal canine communication, and their place in doggy society. After 8 weeks puppies tend to make transitions from one environment to another more easily.
We have a training program for our puppies here and many puppy owners will enter their puppy in this training program before transferring to their new home.
Phase 5 – 13th – 16th weeks
Who’s the Boss?
This is the phase that a puppy will attempt to challenge you for dominance. Here is where they test to see just how much they can get away with and test your level of tolerance. The more a puppy is allowed to get away with during this phase, may cause the dog to lose more and more respect for his owner. This may result in behavioral issues that can snowball if not corrected through training and obedience. Formal obedience should begin here. This will assist the dog in becoming the best he (or she) can be.
All grown up! Maybe…
Your puppy still has lots of growing to do. He will not be considered an adult until he goes through several more development periods and reaches one to two years of age. (Two for Golden Retrievers & Standard Poodles thus Goldendoodles.)