The next few weeks with your puppy
will shape how he matures and how his personality develops. A
good breeder will have spent a lot of time to ensure that the
puppy you have taken home is well balanced and well adjusted -
the rest is now up to you. Below is a summary of socialisation
activities and the different periods a puppy will go through.
If possible try to take your puppy to a puppy kindergarten and
then follow that with a more formal obedience course. It is
essential that you get your pup "out and about" over the next
At around eight to ten weeks the puppy goes
through a fear period where it is extremely susceptible to
physical and psychological trauma, the effects of which may be
permanent and irreversible. This makes the ideal time to adopt
a puppy at between seven and eight weeks of age. At this age,
the pup is capable of forming strong relationships with both
dogs and human beings, though most breeders will not allow a
puppy to leave prior to 8 weeks of age unless it is to a
trusted, experienced doggy home.
Gigi and Oscar
Every effort should be
made to fully socialise the dog, that is, socialise it beyond
the normal casual encounters with people. It is highly
recommended that you develop a program that will expose the
dog to a wide range of different sights, sounds, and textural
feelings, both environmentally and socially.
could include pavement, rugs, cement, sand, grass, gravel,
linoleum and dirt.
Sights: would include trees,
insects, other animals (horses, cows, chickens etc), men with
beards, women with hats, people in wheelchairs, people with
canes, children, traffic, planes, trains, pedestrian traffic,
long grass, lawns, thick scrub.
Sounds: may include
traffic, aeroplanes, trains, railroad crossing signals,
construction and the sound of children playing, music, normal
household sounds etc.
At the same time, further
increase the environment enrichment of the puppy's nest or
den, by adding new toys, a Kong, a piece of heavy rope, or a
ball with a bell in it. Suspend a rubber tug ring at the
puppy's eye level so it can pull on it, or bat it.
greater the exposure you can give your dog during this
critical period, the more it will lead to improved social
flexibility, social communication, emotional stability and
At ten to sixteen weeks of age every
attempt should be made to take your dog to a puppy class. The
classes should be using training methods that are based on
positive rewarded responses. Classes should include
socialisation and play periods with other puppies, children
and adults. Puppies should learn to be handled and touched by
adults and children. The whole family should participate in
the puppy class. The class should be conducted in an
atmosphere of fun and happiness. Rewards should be used
extravagantly. Puppy class should be fun for puppy and family.
Make sure that the person running the class is very
experienced and will supervise the puppies closely when they
are playing off lead, as you do not want your pup to be
bullies, or even be the bully. If you puppy is a little
scared, the instructor should be able to help him out of his
shell. If all efforts are made from the time the puppies are
born, the breeder does his part in socialising them and if the
new owner does his part in socialising his puppy, the results
will be a bond between you and your pet that will increase in
strength and intensity.
You will have a relationship that
you can be proud of and enjoy for the life of your chosen pet.
Critical periods in your puppies psychological growth:
0 to 7 Weeks
Neonatal, Transition, Awareness, and
Canine Socialisation. Puppy is with mother and littermates.
During this period, puppy learns about social interaction,
play, and inhibiting aggression from mother and littermates.
Puppies must stay with their mother and littermates during
this critical period. Puppies learn the most important lesson
in their lives--they learn to accept discipline.
Human Socialisation Period. The puppy now has the
brain waves of an adult dog, but his attention span is short.
This period is when the most rapid learning occurs. Learning
at this age is permanent so this is a perfect time to start
training. Also, this is the ideal time to introduce the puppy
to things that will play an important part in his life.
Introduce the puppy to different people, places, animals, and
sounds in a positive, non-threatening way.
8 to 10 /
Fear Imprint Period. Avoid frightening the puppy
during this period. Any traumatic, frightening or painful
experience will have a more lasting effect on the puppy than
if it occurred at any other time in its life.
13 to 16
Seniority Classification Period or The Age of
Cutting. Puppy cuts teeth and apron strings! Puppy begins
testing who is going to be pack leader. You must discourage
any and all biting because such biting is a sign of dominance!
It is important that you are a strong and consistent leader.
Formal training must begin. Such training will help you
establish your leadership.
4 to 8 Months
Instinct Period. Flight Instinct Period. Puppy may wander and
ignore you. It is very important that you keep the puppy on a
leash at this time! The way that you handle the puppy at this
time determines if the puppy will come to you when called. At
about 4-1/2 months, the puppy loses his milk teeth and gets
his adult teeth. That's when puppy begins serious chewing! A
dog's teeth don't set in his jaw until between 6 and 10
months. During this time, the puppy has a physical need to
exercise his mouth by chewing.
6 to 14
Second Fear Imprint Period or Fear of New Situations
Period. Dog again shows fear of new situations and even
familiar situations. Dog may be reluctant to approach someone
or something new. It is important that you are patient and act
very matter of fact in these situations. Never force the dog
to face the situation. DO NOT pet the frightened puppy or talk
in soothing tones. The puppy will interpret such responses as
praise for being frightened. Training will help improve the
1 to 4 Years
Maturity Period. You
may encounter increased aggression and renewed testing for
dominance, but because you have spent a lot of time with your
Boxer, this will not present a problem at all - in fact you
will probably hardly notice this, it is just something to keep
in mind. Continue to train your dog during this period. Your
dog may have another fear period between 12 - 16 months of
Regardless of your reason for acquiring a puppy,
you'll have to win it over. You, not your dog, will have to be
the leader of the pack if your pup is to develop into a
well-mannered family member instead of a burden. Dominance and
alpha behaviour are important concepts that every dog owner
Dogs are animals, not human beings.
They are pack animals by nature. Every pack has a leader,
known as the alpha animal, which dominates and leads the other
members of the pack. The alpha is the boss who makes decisions
for the entire pack. Usually the pack will have an alpha male
and an alpha female. All the other members of the pack form a
hierarchy of dominance and submission where everyone has a
In your home, you and your family become your dog's
pack, as do any other dogs you may have. It is your
responsibility to establish yourself in the alpha position. If
you fail to do this, your dog will do it as a natural
behaviour. Many people assume that they are automatically in
charge just because humans are superior to animals. But are
you really the pack leader? Does your dog know it?
the pack leader does not mean you have to be big and
aggressive. Nor does it mean that there has to be a battle of
wills after which you are the victor. Anyone can be the pack
leader. It is an attitude an air of authority. It is the basis
for mutual respect, and provides the building blocks of
communication between the two of you.