In this first set of blog posts for the year, we will take a look at the critical periods in a dog’s development, based on the Breeder Caretaker Community Pages, the detail of which can be found here: http://ice.ucdavis.edu/~robyn/Korina/BCIdeas/Criticalperiodsinpuppydevelopment.html.
This divides a dog’s development into a number of stages, where different considerations must be taken into account. Some stages overlap, some do not, but it is a nice way to break up how dogs may behave at different ages/stages and why this may happen.
Each week we will look at a period in your dog’s growing life, to help you identify why certain behaviours may occur and what you should do about it…..if anything at all! Some behaviours you will want to encourage, whilst others you will want to do the opposite. But like humans, all dogs are different, so need to be treated as individuals once they start to develop their own identity and character.
As well as weekly blog posts, we will post daily comments and thoughts on the weeks subject matter on both Facebook and Twitter, so please like and follow us to get all the information.
As ever we welcome questions and feedback, plus you may have something you want to share with us that we can all learn from.
Please feel free to contact me though any of the above methods and don’t forget we have a number of training classes running presently, with more planned soon! Please check out the classes section of our website for further information or if you prefer private tuition, we can help with that too!
Naturally, we will start by looking at the first few stages, when the puppy relies pretty much on its mother for survival.
Neonatal Period (0-12 days): The puppy cannot regulate temperature or elimination and only responds to warmth, touch and smell. Puppies should be pretty much left alone with their mothers at this age – with very little human handling.
Transition Period (13-20 days): Some bodily functions become controlled and ears and eyes open, allowing limited sight and hearing at this stage. Small amounts of gentle human handling can be introduced at this stage.
Awareness Period (21-28 days): The puppy can now see and hear well and requires a stable environment. Increased gentle human handling can be undertaken at this age but the puppy does need to rely mostly on the care of their mother and interaction with it’s littermates.
As you can see, in the first few weeks of its life, a puppy is completely unable to fend for itself . It needs its mother care, attention and milk to enable it to develop. So, I can hear you’re thinking, what does it mean to me as a present or potential new dog owner?
Well, if you are being a wonderful human and adopting from a shelter, probably not that much, but if you are buying from a breeder quite a lot. A good breeder may let you see puppies at this stage in their life, but they will not let you take it away from its mother. Any breeder that is asking you to take a puppy before it is 8 weeks old should raise alarm bells in your head – they should know that puppies need these weeks with their mother and littermates so they can first learn how to be a dog – this is also the time that puppies learn “bite inhibitation”. What does this mean for us? This is when they learn not to bite hard, if they bite their mother or littermates too hard, they don’t get to play, they learn to control their biting and how hard they bite – good news for us when we get them home. So, if a breeder is encouraging you to take a puppy before 8 weeks, perhaps they are keener to take your money and give you a puppy, than they are to ensure the wellness of the puppy itself. This is a bad sign, and any breeder behaving like this should be avoided. Yes, I can hear you thinking, you are saving a dog from a bad breeder, but if you take the puppy and give them your money, all you are doing is funding their continued breeding of dogs in this way.
A good breeder will be happy to introduce you to both the puppies parents and will likely insist on chipping the puppy before departure, as well as providing all veterinary information for the dog indicating that it has had the correct shots and had its health fully checked. They will also advise on the continued requirement for further shots, please follow up with your Vet. who can then advise you on healthcare and when/where it is safe for you to added Puppy Classes and take them walking beyond their own backyard.
Hence, if choosing a puppy, please bear these items in mind and you’ll find and have your dream dog for years to come.
Look out for our daily comments on both Facebook and Twitter and have a great week everyone!