Puppy development stages an behaviour
Period one : 0-2 weeks
The puppy comes into the world more helpless than many other of our domestic animal species. It can't see or hear, can't walk. And also don't do without the help of mother. Bitches stimulate bowel function by licking those on their stomachs. Nevertheless, within 8 weeks, it should more than tenfold its body weight and be ready to face challenges in the wider world. A newborn puppy has little spontaneous movement and must be stimulated to take its first breaths.
The puppy's entire life in the early days is governed by simple reflexes. Some of these reflexes gradually disappear as the puppy becomes more aware of life, while others intensify as the puppy grows.
At birth, the puppy has a reflex that enables it to orient itself towards the bitch as a heat source. When the puppy is licked on the head or back, it will move towards the licker. The head then moves quickly from side to side. So that it finds its way to the mother and teats.
At birth, the puppy has little ability to regulate body temperature and is completely dependent on the heat from the bitch and littermates. This ability is gradually expanded.
Period two : 2-3 weeks
The puppy opens its eyes at +- 10 days. The ability to see develops gradually and it is assumed that the sight is not fully developed until the puppy is several months old.
Around two weeks old, the puppy starts to walk.
The ear canal of a newborn puppy is completely closed, no sound reaches the eardrum. It is a dense tissue that holds the folds of the ear canal together. Gradually this tissue begins to disappear and the ear canal opens at 10-14 days. At 19 days, it begins to be startled by sound.
Period three : 3-5 weeks
The conception phase is the start of the socialization period which lasts until it is 16-20 weeks depending on the breed. What the puppy experiences during this period, both good and bad, will have an impact on it for the rest of its life.
Only around 25 days has the nervous system developed so much that the puppies can orient themselves towards visual and sound stimuli.
The puppy should be handled calmly and carefully by people as early as possible. In this way, it gets used to it being safe and good and finds it easier to relate to different people later in life.
Puppies are born curious, but from 3 to 5 weeks of age they gradually become more skeptical about strangers, so it is important that they meet people who come to visit. And the more people who are different in both gender and age, it will make it easier for the puppy to be confident in the future with everyone it meets. Because the puppy does not perceive details, but shape and movements, it is important that it gets to know children early as it perceives them differently from adults.
Period four : 5-8 weeks
The puppy is naturally curious and must learn what is safe and what is dangerous. It has two conflicting emotions, the desire to explore while also having a fear of the unknown.
During this period, curiosity is greater than fear and it is therefore important that it is allowed to explore new things in a safe environment. At the breeder, it will get used to daily noises in the house such as TV, vacuum cleaner, kitchen appliances, dishwasher etc. It will be allowed to walk on different surfaces such as carpets, planks, gravel, grass and even snow if the season permits.
Through play with littermates and other dogs in the pack, it learns to adapt how hard it can bite, although it takes some time before it has full control over this.
Period five : 8-12 weeks
Around 8-12 weeks, the puppy is ready to meet his new home and the adjustment this entails. About half the socialization period remains, so use it wisely and be patient. The puppy is curious and receptive to several impressions, and targeted learning is possible to begin with. Then simple behaviours, skills and rules. Among other things, this could be becoming the roommate.
Since it is only now at 8 weeks that the puppy has arrived at its new family, it is important to make good use of the rest of the socialization period to prepare it for the life it will have as an adult. Not least to have a spotlight on a good relationship. It bonds quickly with its new owner and must adapt to life in a new family.
It is also important to continue the work that started with breeders to experience new things. It must drive a car, be part of the cityscape to see cars, caravans, mopeds etc. But it is equally important for a city dog to get out to see village life and farm animals.
Socialization is interpreted by many as the dog must greet as many dogs as possible during this period – this is wrong. The important thing is that the few dogs it has to deal with are safe dogs with good language. Socialization means that the puppy must experience many different situations and it can see other dogs, but does not need to greet everyone.
Puppies need a lot of sleep and should not be disturbed when they are sleeping. Both children and adults must respect that it needs peace and needs its own sanctuary. Training and play takes place in very short sessions during this period. A puppy that is often disturbed will develop stress more easily and have more difficulty calming down later in life.
Period six : 12-20 weeks
When the puppy is around 12 - 20 weeks old, the process of sexual maturation begins. The puppy is starting to become more physically mature and thus the production of sex hormones will also start. This will affect both the physical and psychological expression of the puppy, and the difference between male dogs and bitches will become clearer. At this stage, the puppy is halfway to sexual maturity. Here, it is important to consider that the change in hormones will create new feelings in the puppy, while existing feelings are reinforced. It is therefore important to take this to condsideration and pay attention to the puppy. It can show positive emotions such as increased willingness to cooperate and self-confidence, playfulness, curiosity and social qualities, but the puppy can also show increased aggression, insecurity and less self-confidence towards both people and animals.
During this period, many people experience that the puppy sees "ghosts" and is shown by the puppy showing fear and aggression towards objects it has not previously reacted to. When these situations arise, it is important to allow the dog to react, which can for example be to approach and smell the object to find out that it is not dangerous. If you don't let the puppy react, behavioral problems can arise later in life. If the dog is scared, calmly withdraw and give it time to explore at its own pace. If you push the dog forward, it can become afraid of this for a much longer time.
At the end of this period, around 20 weeks, the socialization window closes and it is important that the puppy is left with many positive experiences about the environment in which it will function as an adult.
Period seven : 8-11 months
Sexual maturity occurs when the puppy is around 8 - 11 months old and when the dog is sexually mature, it is able to reproduce itself. This period is characterized as the puppy's teenage period and can be difficult for the puppy.
The puppy develops enormously during this period, both physically and mentally. This affects, among other things, the dog's general behavior and ability to learn. During this period, it is difficult to experience that the puppy forgets things it has previously learned, that rules are broken and commands are not followed.
Therefore, this period can also be difficult and challenging for the owner, but it is important to keep the focus on maintaining a good relationship and not create a conflict that can reduce willingness to cooperate later in life. During this period the dog becomes physically mature.
Period eight : 17-22 months
The last period takes place when the dog is around 17 - 22 months. This is when the dog goes from young to adult individual. The dog's personality, characteristics, expression and preferences become more stable. Some dogs can also behave rebelliously and be challenging during this period. Old experiences can also be expressed again as well as increased fear and aggression. Other dogs can go through this period without behavioral challenges.