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Neonatal period - Birth to 12 days, puppies stay close to mom and litter mates, in a pile. Even though their eyes and ears are closed, their sense of smell is on the job. Put yourself in the midst of the dog pile, so to speak. Initial imprinting is taking place. They squeak and yip when away from the litter. We snuggle and pet each puppy, several times a day. I know, it's a tough job, but somebody has to do it. We provide bio-sensory stimulation to promote a healthy immune system, intelligence and emotional stability.

Critical Period of Socialization - Birth to 4 weeks, is your opportunity to make the human environment as natural for the puppies as hanging out with the litter. Having the whelping box in the middle of the house for the first 4 weeks and handling the puppies on a daily basis makes them very trusting and social for the rest of their lives. http://heritageservicedogs.org/imprint.html

Transitional Period - 10 to 20 days, Eyes are open but not focusing well, ears are opening, hearing is becoming more acute. Puppies begins to stand and take their first steps, start responding to taste and smell. As soon as they start walking, puppies begin to toddle away from the puppy pile to go potty. We start potty training at this point by introducing a litter box. With a little encouragement it is amazing how quickly the puppies find the box.

Awareness Period - 21 to 23 days Puppy is able to use senses of sight and hearing. They start playing with toys, begin to play and seriously interact with each other and their human family. You will start noticing different levels of attentiveness, and personality traits begin to show up.

Canine Fraternal Socialization - 21 to 49 days Puppies begin to demonstrate species specific behavior, biting, chasing, barking, fighting and body posturing. They learn to accept discipline from mother and to use submissive postures. They learn to control their bite, to relate to other litter mates and develops a pack hierarchy through play. This play time learning is critical to the puppies healthy development. Leaving the litter too early can effect the puppies ability to get along with other dogs as well as their human family in the future.

It is critical to puppies physical and emotional health to give them room to run and play. If given the space they will choose a spot as far away from their bed as possible to go potty. An indoor/outdoor play area with a doggy door is ideal. Mother begins to wean puppies between 6-8 weeks, but should be allowed as much time with the pups as she wants. We put up a divider mom can jump over. She comes and goes as she pleases and can take a much needed break from the demands of the litter.

By 49 days, or 7 weeks the brain is neurologically developed, the brain waves of the puppy are the same as a mature dog. We do our temperament testing at this point. We want to determine as close as possible the puppies innate temperament and abilities. That helps us determine the best possible training techniques for each individual pup.

Human Socialization - 7 to 12 weeks, or the terrible two's
Puppy will be completely weaned from mother during this time.
About 9 weeks of age the puppies start pulling away from the litter looking for their human. This is a great time to bring your new puppy home. You can take full advantage of the family bonding  and socialization period. This is the age when most rapid learning occurs. They can get into a lot of mischief at this time, so have plenty of treats for training, soft toys to play with, and appropriate things to chew on.

7 to 16 weeks is an absolutely critical period in which puppy should be socialized, or introduced to the rest of their world. Greatest impact on future social behavior will be made by any experiences that happens at this point. This window of opportunity is short. Although puppies continue to learn to be comfortable with new things, it is not as easy. Maximize this time! This is an ideal time to capitalize on educating your puppy. Basic obedience, potty training. Expose puppies to new sights, sounds, smells, animals, and people. Take into account puppy's emotional and physical limitations and short attention span. Sexual imprinting takes place at this time as well. Use short sessions, and try to keep it positive.

Fear Imprint - The 8 to 11 week period, coincides with the human imprint period. During this time puppy parents will be potty training, crate training, socializing and begin basic obedience training.

Things that hurt or frighten the puppy during this period will have more of a lasting effect than if it occurred at any other time. You can use this to your advantage for avoidance training. Elective surgery should be put off until after the 12th week, and trips to the vet should be made fun.

You will see things like play biting, barking, growling, jumping on and snapping. These are natural instinctive behaviors. Don't panic, it only takes a few days to correct these behaviors. Teach alternative behaviors to replace them. Sitting at your feet instead of jumping up for attention, playing games like fetch instead of nip and run, settling quietly instead of barking at every sound...

12 to 16 weeks - Seniority Classification 10 to 16 weeks, your puppy is attempting to resolve where they fit into the pack or family in this case. If you have provided structure and consistency, this transition should be relatively painless, if not things are going to get pretty crazy around your house. You may notice that even though your puppy is very respectful, and responds perfectly well to you, they may think it is fine to treat other members of the family more like litter mates. Involve the family in training and do not hesitate to correct bad behaviors. A tired puppy is a good puppy. Games, exercise and training all help puppies stay focused and out of trouble.

Juvenile Period - 4 to 6 Months, or surviving the teen years. During this time, your puppy will gain more energy, and become more “mouthy” and restless from the discomfort of teething as the baby teeth begin to fall out and the adult teeth erupt. Make sure you have plenty of chew toys and bones. Your puppy will begin to acquire an adult coat and attain most of their height.

They will become sexually mature. If you have not spayed or neutered before now, you will begin dealing with related behaviors. Unless you plan on breeding, you want to get it done as soon as possible. These physiological changes are like a teenager going through puberty. They will keep you on your toes.

For centuries it has been promoted that you needed to wait until the female went through her heat cycle, or even had a litter of puppies before spaying, and it was believed that there was no need to neuter males at all. Some people still believe that their dog will not work, hunt, herd, etc. if they have been altered. With the humane pet movement studies have shown that altering dogs early does not harm them physically, developmentally or emotionally. In fact they tend to be calmer, are more likely to stay home so are less likely to be injured. I find they are more able to focus on the job at hand. We recommend spay and neuters be done before 6 months of age. Even our breeding stock is spayed and neutered when we are through breeding to decrease the risk of cancer in the sex organs.

Flight Instinct - 4 to 8 months,
is the perfect time to spay/neuter your puppy, before they reach sexual maturity.

Your puppy is more likely to run away when they become frightened at this point. They also become more independent and may not come as readily when called. You can use a long line for added security.

You need to step up your training at this point. They are able to be more precise in their movements, and have the stamina to go for greater distances. They have the ability to wait in position for longer periods of time, especially for a reward. Your puppy is getting stronger, more energetic, they spend more time exploring their environment, become easily distracted, and may even seem less interested in you and forgetful of their training skills. Be patient, consistent, and supportive. Make sure boundaries are still well in place, review your training, and continue building on your successes. You may need to add a training collar at this point.

I recommend that when you are not available to supervise their behavior, your pup remains in a secure area. You can test them for short periods of time (10 to 15 minutes) until they no longer get into things, or damage property.

6 to 14 months - Adolescent Period and Second Fear, corresponds with growth spurts, therefore it may happen more than once as the puppy matures. They may suddenly be apprehensive about new things, old things, people or situations. Continue positive socialization. If they become apprehensive, calmly walk past at a greater distance. 
Your dog will read your fear or calmness. This period only lasts a few weeks. Reward investigation and confidence. We had walked into the supermarket several times, but one day Alex jumped backward. He was suddenly frightened by the coin pony ride. We calmly walked past a couple of times, and he was over it. The taxidermy bears and buffalo took a bit longer.

Puppies have most of their height by 6 months old, but will continue to fill out over the coming year. Males begins to lift their leg to pee, and females have their first heat cycle. Hold on tight. When your puppy puts it in 4 wheel drive, they have the size and strength to take you for a run. This can be a difficult time if you have not established boundaries, socialization and training.

Physical and Sexual Maturity - reached at 2 to 3 years for standard poodles.
Smaller dogs mature earlier, larger dogs later. Mentally and socially, a dog is considered a puppy for  2 to 3 years! Even though dogs may breed and have puppies as early as 6 to 9 months, they are not fully grown and should not be bred until 2 years old and 2nd or 3rd heat cycle.
PUPPY PLACEMENT PROGRAM

Stages of Development - Birth to 2 Years
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