Your new pup is home…you want him to grow up as a mature well-mannered pooch. Early socialisation is what reflects on the social behaviour of an adult. The development of a pup can be divided into four stages. Let’s see how each stage is important.
- Neonatal period (the first and second weeks): This is a period where pups are helpless and dependent on their mother; they are sensitive to certain tastes and smells, their eyes and ears are neither open nor functional.
- Transitional period (the third week): This is a period of rapid transformation and transition. Pups now show abilities to crawl back and front, try to stand and walk. They start to hear and see, by the end of the period, they also tend to play fight their littermates showing social signals like growling and tail wagging.
- Socialisation period (the fourth to tenth weeks): This is the most critical period. Studies say dogs must be introduced to other dogs from ages 4 to 6 weeks. Also, they must be introduced to lots of people from ages 6 to 12 weeks. If pups are separated from the litter before 12 weeks, then the pup becomes shy and fearful, which can later lead to aggressive behaviour. Socialising your puppies doesn’t mean just casually introducing them to your family and friends. You need to get these dogs out and about and in as many public settings as you can. However, don’t do this all in one day. You should be introducing your new puppies to five new people every week, and then five more, and so on as he goes through the socialisation period. Getting a supervision of a behaviourist is always beneficial. Eight to ten weeks is a very crucial period for physical and psychological damages made then can very seldom be repaired. Behaviour experts never suggest training in these two weeks as we have observed pups punished by pet parents for things like toilet habits at this period lose trust on their pet parents permanently. In this period, pups need to see and smell trees, other domestic animals, trains, children’s play area, and loud noises. Get pups to walk on different textures, like cemented, marble, vinyl flooring, grass and sand. Most of the nibbling/play biting problems arise in pups as they are separated from the mother before 12 weeks, here the pups want to learn by biting pet patent’s hands and legs which is annoying. These pups never get to learn how much to bite what. Behavioural activities and further socialisation of the young dog depend largely on his environment.
- Juvenile period (the tenth week to puberty): During the juvenile period, the young dog is looking for the leader. This is the time for the pup to understand the pack and hierarchy. The young puppy who is placed in a home becomes a part of the social organisation of the family, and establishing human-dog communication is important to being the dog’s leader. New pet parents need to understand their role in preventing or encouraging problem behaviours at this phase of the puppy’s development. The puppy who is indulged with free attention will develop to exhibit aggressive, destructive or unruly behaviours. When this occurs, carpets are chewed or wet, chairs destroyed, drapes ruined, doors broken, and many other obnoxious and preventable behaviours occur. Time to school the pup or consult a behaviourist! Happy pup rearing!
(Amrut Sridhar Hiranya is a canine behaviourist educated and trained in New Zealand. To know more about him, log on to: www.dogguru.in).