When is a puppy not a puppy?

Socialization – 3 weeks to around 16 weeks

This dog development stage is split into two, primary socialization 3 – 5 weeks and secondary socialization, 6 – 12 weeks. During the primary period, the puppy is still with its mother and siblings and the breeder can have an influence on future behavior. Exposure to a wide range of noises of varying type and level is important as the puppies have yet to develop fear.

The secondary period that starts when the puppy is still with the breeder should include short periods of separation from their litter mates and should be experiencing a wide range of new challenges such as the outside world, car travel, activity courses, different surfaces, water etc. Weaning starts around 5 – 7 weeks.

At 8 weeks old the puppies start to move to their new homes where continued, positive exposure to novel stimuli is crucial for the future prevention of fearfulness and anxiety that can continue to adulthood. Vaccinations are usually carried out from 7 or 8 weeks. Interacting with other puppies and sensible adult dogs plays a part in the socialization process where learning appropriate play moves from their siblings to other dogs. Puppy classes can commence to aid this process.

The end of this period and dog's mental maturity will vary from puppy to puppy.

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