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Fourth Critical Period

Eighth through twelfth week

BASIC NEEDS : Human socialization, mother substitute, training.

DO
Avoid frightening or painful new experiences.

 

 

REASON
Studies have shown that prior to eight weeks of age a pup will continue to approach a person, even though that person frightened or hurt him the previous day. Upon reaching the eighth week and being frightened, he will remember and will be afraid of the person and try to avoid contact with them. The eighth week is a period of fear for the puppy, and you should avoid trips to the vet for vaccines (although this is usually the week most pups are taken for their first trip), exposing the pup to new situations that may be frightening. As you can see, this rules out one of the most common practices of transferring the pup to a new home during this time -- unless the new owners have been thoroughly "grilled" and will avoid any unpleasant experiences for the pup. This is also the time many breeds have their ears cropped -- again it should be done prior to the eighth week, or closer to the tenth week of life. Studies have also shown that once a puppy passes this stage in his life, his devotion to humans is too great (if he has been properly socialized) that even though they may reject him and attempt to frighten him, he will still approach and creep submissively to their feet!
DO 
Remove form littermates and mother influence, or rotate.

 

 

REASON
Leaving the pup with the mother can become very confusing, and actually be damaging to his emotional development. During this period she will begin actively rejecting the pup, which can be quite a blow to his newly gained confidence. Leaving the pup with the mother can also cause him to remain dependent on her, which again, will be damaging to his emotional development. Since she is rejecting him, he will not find the security he needs.

Anytime following the eighth week is an ideal time to place the pup in his new home (provided the new owners are willing to follow through with the remainder of the critical periods). He will naturally become attached to the person who becomes his substitute mother.

His instinct to follow (the beginning of the pack instinct) comes into being early in this period and he will naturally look up to his human pack leader.
It is important to separate or rotate the pups from or with littermates to keep them from becoming bullies or cowards. The pup must remain with the litter long enough to develop a competitive attitude, but leaving him too long will have the opposite effect, and injure his emotional growth. If removed from the litter and mother and raised with other dogs in the family, for some reason, he is not affected in the same way. So don't be afraid to place in homes that already have a dog.

DO
Provide love and attention.

 

 

REASON
The pup's ability to form a strong bond of affection and devotion is greater during this period than at any other time in his life. That doesn't mean he must be fussed over constantly or "coddled". But to help achieve this bond to humans, he needs good care, and individual times of play and petting.
DO
Provide supervised play with children.

 

 

REASON
A dog does not see all humans as one species of animal, a child is totally different from an adult, and a young adult is completely different from an elderly person. Children and adults, as well as other animals in the family or neighbourhood should not be allowed to scare or hurt the puppy, (accidentally or on purpose), so they must be watched carefully. If you do not have children, then "borrow" them from the neighbourhood. Introduce one child, and then gradually add several children. Do not allow the puppy to pull or chew on the child. Have the child offer him a toy, or if necessary correct the puppy gently.
DO
Provide supervised socialization with as many different types of people as possible.

 

 

REASON
His introduction to people during this period will determine his later sociability and emotional outlook towards humans. His fondness (or fear) of people will permanently affect how he accepts training and directions. If he is properly socialized, it is possible to even overcome the inherited breed characteristics of independence, aggressiveness, and aloofness. The importance of closely supervising all contact with people during this time cannot be emphasized strongly enough. You must make sure nothing occurs to cause negative conditioning.
DO
Expose to the big, wide world after the eighth week.

 

 

REASON
The pup should gradually be introduced to the "outside" world. He should be taken in the yard, taken for walks, taken for short automobile rides, and introduced to strange new objects. Even the common household garbage can may be a frightening experience, unless you've been properly introduced! He should see and smell everything within his reach. He should learn that bicycles are not to be feared, nor washing machine noises, or automobile sounds and motion. Or doorbells and telephones and a hundred other new and exciting and funny things that make up his strange new world.
DO 
Begin gentle but firm discipline.

 

 

REASON
During this period he is capable of accepting and understanding discipline. By discipline, we mean learning that all-important word "NO" command.
DO
Complete your housebreaking.

 

 

REASON
During this period he is capable of going through the night without having an accident, and he can progress from paper training to outdoor training. It should be done only in a positive manner. His desire to be clean in his bed area, as well as his desire to please, will make housebreaking a snap at this time.
DO
Begin his simple obedience training: response to sit, stand, down, come.

 

 

REASON
His developing pack instinct will keep his total attention on you, the leader, at this time and make training so simple you will vow to begin training every additional pup you acquire at this tender age! Even more important, what he learns during this time will remain with him for life, and become a basic part of his complete personality and his acceptance of training throughout his life. His house breaking should be completed during this period. Progressing from the short line on the collar to an actual training lead.
DO
Be positive and constructive.

 

 

REASON
Again, what he is learning during this period will shape his entire attitude towards training and life in general. Everything related to training should be done in a positive manner. During training sessions forget that word "NO". He will be praised for correct behaviour and will receive "nothing" for incorrect behaviour. We merely replace him gently in position, and praise when he responds. The word "NO" can be employed in training when the pup is attempting to bite.
DO 
Work individually out of sight and hearing of mother and littermates, in a distraction free area.

 

 

REASON
By working separately you are still stressing that he is an individual and helping to build his confidence even more. In addition you are also helping him understand he can be a co-worker with you. He must be away from his littermates and mother and in an area that is free of distractions so that his attention is focused only on you. He can be trained with distractions, but the results will be much more spectacular if distractions are not available.
DO
Begin teaching him to fetch.

 

 

REASON
If you are planning to enter this pup in obedience competition now is the time to begin retrieving! Actually the fetch test is used by "Guide Dogs For The Blind" to determine how willing a pup is going to be to work for man. They consider this test extremely important and have found that pups that do not fetch willingly never become reliable guide dogs.
DO NOT
Restrain.

 

 

REASON
The only restraints used should be the crate or other necessary fencing to keep the puppy in his kennel or bed area. The puppy should not be tied outside of left tied anywhere during this time.
DO NOT
Isolate from humans.

 

 

REASON
Test proved that a puppy who is isolated from humans during this period remain maladjusted for life. They also proved to be incapable of becoming companions to humans as well as incapable of training.
Your daily training sessions will provide ample contact with humans but this can create what is known as single-person socialization a dog that accepts one person, but is terrified or aggressive to other people. For this reason, again the importance of introducing him to other people is stressed.

NEW ACTIONS AND REACTIONS

Extreme competition now begins in the litter, creating bullies and timid, cowardly pups. The pup can now learn by association chain. Show him what to do, and he will learn to do it. The natural pack instinct develops and he will willingly follow a human leader if the opportunity is provided. He is learning at an accelerated pace. Because environmental influences create such a big impression on him, this is the best time for man to step in and mould the puppy into exactly the kind of dog he wants. He will never again be as "pliable" as he is during this period. His body sensitivity is increasing rapidly, and it is important to avoid physical punishment or accidental painful events.

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS

As you can see this is another extremely critical period in moulding your puppy. From my personal experience, I would never purchase a puppy over seven weeks of age, unless I knew the breeder was strictly adhering to the training and socialization in the various periods. However, I would never sell a pup of my own breeding until they were at least 11 to 12 weeks of age. I know that most people are not willing to put in the time to cover all the "Do and Do Nots", and I would want to make sure that this pup had the best possible start in life to counterbalance the many new, strange, and frightening, as well as negative influences he is bound to encounter in the course of his life.

Although most of the studies stress puppies should be placed in new homes at the end of the seventy week of life, (because this is when the permanent bonds of affection begin), you can keep the pup without detrimental effects if you are willing to devote the time and energy necessary.      

The pups should be watched closely during this period for signs of domination. If one pup continuously dominates another pup, then it is time to begin your rotation of pups. In a few litters, no one pup is ever totally dominant -- meaning there are times when he is the guy on top and other times when the pup he was just dominating is now dominating him. With these litters it is not necessary to provide separate housing. But if a dominant pattern is developing then you must set up enough pens or crates (or whatever you are using) to accommodate the pups in pairs. 

Let's assume that you have six pups in your litter. Today you might pair puppy A and B in one pen, puppies C and D in another, and puppies E and F in a third pen. Tomorrow you would rotate these pups, placing puppies A and F together, B/D, and C/E. The next day you would again rotate, placing A and E, and so on. In this way a dominant pup is never left with the one he is dominating more than a day. Likewise, a submissive pup to pup "A" may be dominant to pup "D" and so on.       

It is very rare for one pup to be dominate over every other pup in the litter, just as it is rare for one pup to be the underdog and be submissive to the entire litter. This way each pup gets his opportunity to be the dominate one, and he also learns he is not the "king of the mountain" as there are times when he must submit to another pup.

In addition to rotating to counterbalance the pup's place in the world, you must hold daily training sessions and individual attention, and it must be done out of sight and hearing of the rest of the litter or the mother. In this way the pup can successfully be kept for longer periods before placing him in his new home, and still emerge a confident, sociable pup, with positive attitude towards training.   

All pups tend to "mirror" their human families. If the family is noisy and active then chances are the pup is going to be nosy and slightly hyper. Conversely if the pup is raised in a quiet calm atmosphere, he is probably going to be the same type of dog.

It is important when placing your pups in a new home that the owners understand if they want a pup that is a gentle and loving as an adult, then they must treat it gently and lovingly.

If the pup is always greeted, when the owners return home, with excited cries of "Hello puppy! What a good puppy, blah, blah, blah" the pup is going to be overly excited each time his family returns which leads to jumping and running wildly through the house.

While the pup should certainly be greeted, it should be done quietly with gentleness and loving attention. The pup should be placed into a sit prior to being petted which will end forever the problem of jumping up, and will teach the pup sitting quietly earns the welcome reward of petting and praise.