Second Critical Period

Fourth Week

BASIC NEEDS : Food, sleep, warmth, his mother, canine socialization with his litter mates, socialization with humans on limited basis, unaltered environment.


Provide gentle handling by humans.



An attachment to humans is beginning to form, however, due to importance of this particular period, handling should be by adults in your immediate family. Not by strangers.
DO NOT  Remove from the litter.



If removed from the litter the pup will lose his ability for socially adjusting to dogs, and will probably  remain a maladjusted "people" dog for the rest of his life.


Weaning will create an emotional upset that will be insurmountable. IF, due to mammary problems or other unforeseen circumstances, the pup must be weaned or removed from the litter, it should be done before the 21st day or after the 28th day.


Allow negative events to happen.



During this period negative events can bring the inborn characteristic of nervousness to light. Negative happenings can  create shyness and other unwanted qualities in a puppy. Once these qualities have developed they will be difficult, if not impossible, to erase.



All senses are functioning. The pup can see, hear, smell, taste, and feel. You will notice a loud noise or fast movement will cause the pup to startle. Studies have shown profound changes are now occurring in the brain waves. The pup stops all neonatal behaviour such as crawling and swinging the head from side to side. The pup whines much less. He doesn't sleep as much. He will leave the nest area for a considerable time by himself or with another puppy, but will not travel very far away.


This is perhaps the most critical of all the periods. Before this time the pup was insulated from the environment emotionally, but now suddenly he can see and hear and he discovers the world to be a very scary place filled with strange noises, sudden movements and contrasting shades of dark and light. Unless this period is handled with care he can become so emotionally upset it will remain with him for life. For this reason any changes in his environment should occur wither before or after this period. This is definitely not the time to move his whelping box to a different location, or to introduce him to the neighbour's children.

However, common sense should be used. I knew one breeder who adhered to the established critical periods, and during this week would seal off the whelping room, disconnected his doorbell, his telephone, and refuse to even enter the room for fear of upsetting the pups with a strange noise. While the pups do need a carefully controlled environment, they also need contact with humans (preferably their breeder or other responsible adults). While you certainly wouldn't want to go into the room and drop a metal feeding pan, or allow a screaming youngster to enter the area, you do not have to go overboard. Use your common sense in going about the daily routines.