PUPPY DEVELOPMENT AND SOCIALISATION

Excerpt from Companion Huskies © Karen Davison 2016
Although this is an excerpt from the pending publication Companion Huskies, (Available for pre-order) it is relevant to all breeds.

4 - 7 Weeks -


It is this stage when puppies learn and practice their canine social skills through education by the Dam and intensive play with each other. Play is an important mould to adult social behaviour.
Play between littermates and interaction with mother is crucial in the learning process. It teaches communication skills, inhibited bite and greeting rituals which are vitally important when interacting with other dogs in later life.

These early interactions promote communal behaviour and social bonding and helps puppies to improve coordination, physical dexterity and problem solving, thus accelerating experience.Play between dogs is a natural, useful and enjoyable activity and puppies that are allowed to partake in a normal period of canine socialisation, will continue to partake in, and enjoy play throughout the course of their adult lives.

Puppies that are removed from the litter too early, are likely to have poor social skills, become fearful, inhibited or over reactive/aggressive when they meet other dogs.It is important therefore, that puppies should remain with the litter for a minimum of 8 weeks.

DEVELOPMENT


The early stages of canine development have the greatest influence on temperament and learning ability. Experiences gained (both positive and negative) during this period will have a lasting affect on your dog's ability to interact with people and other species and determines how well your dog will cope with everyday life. The first three months are when rapid learning and development occurs.

4 - 12 Weeks -

During this time puppies respond to external stimulus and will actively explore their environment. It is important to give them different objects and textures to explore at this stage and introduce new experiences. Puppies that are handled often during early stages of development will be more confident with people.

During this crucial stage of development, everything that your puppy comes in to contact with will make a lasting impression. It is important that your puppy is exposed to as many different positive experiences as possible.
At this stage your puppy will learn how to interact with people, other species and new environments. 

Puppies that are raised in a sensory rich and interesting environment, will be able to cope much better, will be well adjusted and balanced, suffer less stress, will have good problem solving skills and more confidence.
It has been shown that puppies that are reared in a limited environment can develop impaired learning ability, hyperactivity and fearfulness. Thus the wider the range of exposure to different sights, sounds and smells, the more confident the mature dog will be.

12 weeks and beyond -


This is the third and final stage in the process of growth and development. Unlike the first two stages it has no time limit and by comparison covers a very long period of time. During this time the positive sum or experiences has a cumulative effect on the individual. The more you can exposure your dog to a wide variety of interesting, novel and exciting experiences with regular opportunities to freely investigate, manipulate and interact, the better.

SOCIALISATION


Good socialisation is important to help your puppy grow into a well adjusted, well behaved and confident adult.

In the next section you will find a suggested socialisation program, with explanations of the benefits of each element.

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