Socialization of puppies

The periods in the development of the behaviour in puppies are divided into four:

  1. Prenatal period, when the foetuses are inside their mum’s belly and they start developing the sense of touching. This can be noticed in the ecographies of the expecting female dogs as well as when the foetuses react when we touch female dog’s belly.
  2. Neonatal period. From the birth until the eyes are opened between the 10th and 14th days, when the life of the puppies seems to be dominated by sleep and some reflex activities. They only react to tactile stimulations (they cannot see either hear) and go to the heat sources dragging. The pain feeling is the last one to appear in the neurological development, so some tails could be noticed in this phase, however they are no problem for the puppy.
  3. Transition period. It started when the eyelids get opened and it finishes when the puppy starts hearing, approximately about the fourth week of life. Although the vision is not still perfect, the persistence of some behaviours as caving in the ground with the legs or tactile explorations, let us suspect about the existence of problems of vision. Puppies start playing and recognising their congeners in this period.
  4. Socialization period. The puppy will learn about the social life in this phase where it will achieve the capacity of communicating as well as the interpretation of nose and postural signs as well as the sense of hierarchy. This period is divided into two phases, the first one, from the fourth to the eighth or ninth week, called period of attraction since the puppy is attracted by everything and nothing scares it. Then, there is a period of aversion between the ninth and the fifteenth weeks of life, when the puppy develops the fear towards new members.

This period in the life of the animal is very important for the puppy to become an animal with a balanced behaviour with no alterations. Puppies are extremely sensitive and malleable in the attraction period so this is the moment to get them used to their future environment. So, the owner or breeder must favour the contact of the animal with people, especially with children and the members who will live in peace with (mailmen, uniform people, people from other races, cats…). As many readers may know it is very common that some adult animals show themselves hostile towards the presence of people with specific uniforms or races, precisely because they had no contact with this kind of people in the first months of life. The same way, the moment to get the puppy used to the stimuli it is going to receive from adults (explosions, shotgun, noise from engines…) is this phase. Also, it is very important to reinforce the learning of hierarchy, obliging it when necessary, to do submission postures (holding them back’s skin or neck’s). We also must multiply the playing activities among puppies, and punish those that do not control their bites yet.

We are able to guess the temperament of the future puppy in these first weeks of life watching its behaviour and doing the so-called Cambell’s test that we will talk about in next edition.

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