Stages Of Canine Development.

Knowing where your dog is on the development scale can help you to figure out what is coming next in the growing stage of your dog. Alternatively, it can provide an insight into your dog’s current behaviour. In this article, Holidays4Dogs provides the reader with a basic outline of a the stages of canine development.

Many puppy owners can often be heard lamenting about their rambunctious puppy. “When will he calm down?”, they plead. Broadly speaking, many types of dog will not mature until they are around two years old and they go through many periods of development on the way.

10726387_883407351669765_1399411824_nNeonatal Period – from birth to about 13 days. 

Puppies are born deaf and blind. They are unable to eliminate without stimulation from their mother and they are also unable to regulate their own body temperature. This is the stage where they do not learn, or develop any attachments to external influences. They sleep, suckle and poop and that’s about it!

Transition Period – 13 – 21 days. 

During this stage of canine development, puppies eyes and ears will gradually open, enabling them to smell, taste and to hear sounds going on around them.

Awareness Period – 21 – 23 days. 

This is the first critical period for the young pup since this short time is when he is able to utilise his senses and learn about his environment. Puppies during this stage will startle easily if there are sudden loud noises.

Canine Socialisation Period – 3 – 7 weeks. 

This is a crucial phase in the canine development of puppies. The puppy will readily engage in chasing, biting and posturing with his mother and littermates.

He is soaking up learning opportunities such as bite inhibition and acceptance of discipline from his mother. The development of a pup’s mental capabilities during this stage depends very much on his environment.

Exposure to different sounds, objects and different surfaces, for example, are important to help a puppy to be comfortable in his surroundings. It is also important that he is able to meet as many new people as possible and experience as many novel situations, such as steps, or vehicles.

Pups will be receptive to training from five weeks old and will react positively to reward based training.

Fear Imprint Period – 8-10 weeks. 

Anything negative that happens to a pup during this phase can have a detrimental affect on him lifelong. Harsh handling, or any number of traumatic experiences, can have a harmful effect on the developing puppy during this time.

Human Socialisation Period – 7 – 12 weeks. 

This is one of the most interesting stages of canine development. During this time, the pup will become very aware of the world around him and it is crucial that he begins to experience life outside and away from the comfort of his littermates. This is the period when a pup is ready to leave home and join his new family. It is important that he is exposed to lots of new people, dogs and new experiences.  Some puppies, if not socialised enough during this period, can become aggressive and fearful and this can be very difficult to reverse.

Flight Instinct Period – 4-8 months. 

This stage can last from anything to a few days to a few weeks and may happen at any time during this time, so it is important to be aware of it and monitor your pup’s behaviour throughout this phase. Your pup may suddenly become less obedient, he may run off further than he did before and he may also have a lapse in house training.

Second Fear Imprint Period – 6 -14 months. 

This stage of canine development can often confuse the average puppy owner. The pup may suddenly become fearful of something he was previously fine with, such as strangers coming to the door. This is due to hormonal changes in the body and it will usually pass.

It is important not punish the dog for his behaviour, or to accidentally reinforce undesirable behaviours.

stages of canine development

Gentle encouragement and a matter-of-fact attitude is all that is usually needed, without forcing the pup to ‘face his fears’.

Adolescent Period – 18 – 24 months. 

This is the period where many owners will notice their growing puppy can test their patience. Male dogs may become territorial, or protective.

Maturity Period – 12 months to 4 years. 

While your dog’s personality will have formed well before now, during this stage of canine development the pup will continue to gradually mature physically and mentally.