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PETsMART

Information About Puppies

Understanding Your Puppy's Socialization Period

 

The socialization period is a crucial stage in your puppy's growth. This occurs during the third to twelfth weeks of the dog's age. Your puppy's first social association is developed during this period. If he is able to establish a social relationship with people at this stage, it will not be hard for him to form a lasting bond with people all throughout his life. On the other hand, if the puppy gets very little interaction with people during this stage, he will have difficulties adjusting to people from that point on.

The socialization period is divided into four stages. The first stage is the stage of becoming aware. This is between the third and fifth week after birth. The second stage is the stage of curiosity. This occurs between the fifth and seventh week. The third stage is what is referred to as the stage of behavioral refinement that occurs between the seventh and ninth week. The last stage in the socialization period is referred to as the stage of environmental awareness. This happens between the ninth and twelfth week after birth.

In the first stage if socialization (the stage of becoming aware) the puppy is able to see, hear, and his sense of smell is improving rapidly. This is the stage where he starts to bark and growl, bite his litter mates, and wag his tail. His paws are almost fully developed. He is starting to walk but gets tired easily. He is beginning to become aware of the surroundings around him. He starts to play with the other puppies in the litter.

The stage of curiosity is a very crucial part in the puppy's life. This is the period where he is very dependent on the settings that are provided for him to develop his behavior. He is very curious about his surroundings and starts to develop a small sense of fear. He learns to take part in group activities as well as engaging in sexual play within the litter. Weaning also begins at this stage.

During the third stage, the period of behavioral refinement, his visual and hearing ability is fully developed. He starts to explore anything and everything. He is scared of abrupt loud noise and movement and is very cautious of whatever is new in the environment.

On the fourth week, the period of environmental awareness, he is starting to develop a strong dominant behavior within the litter. He starts to learn how and when to act. His coordination and motor skills are rapidly improving although he has a very short attention span.

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