When looking into getting a puppy, it is essential to think about how old the animal will be when it is brought into its new home. If you provide the right environment for your puppy during the crucial stages of their development (when their personality, character, and traits are still being formed), it can have a significant impact on the dog’s life in the future. You might be wondering, “What exactly are Critical Developmental Stages?” This is a process that each and every dog goes through as they mature and develop into adulthood. Dogs, like human babies, go through a progression of stages as they grow and develop, just like human babies do.
Many people who buy older puppies sometimes notice that there may be some bonding issues, where they are unable to connect with their new pet. This is because older puppies have had more time to develop their personalities. There is a possibility that some of these dogs are overly timid, depressed, unwilling to comply, aggressive, exhibiting bullish behaviors, and other similar traits. This could be because of the age at which the puppy was taken away from its littermates or its mother in the first place. It is of the utmost importance to leave the puppies with the other members of their litter as well as their mother. They learn a lot of valuable lessons here, and it’s also where their physical and emotional development gets off to a good start.
There are five stages of development that, if skipped, can cripple a dog’s emotional well-being and/or social development for the rest of its life, as shown by scientific studies. If these stages are skipped, a dog’s emotional well-being and/or social development will be stunted. There are further divisions within each of these stages, but the total number is still only five. Let’s take a somewhat closer look at each of these phases. During the course of development, there are a lot of changes that take place, and you’ll notice that some of the stages occur very close to one another in time.
First Phase 0-21 days
During this time, the puppy’s mental capacity is practically nonexistent, and it is only able to respond to its most basic needs, which include being warm, being fed, sleeping, and being with its mother.
On the 21st day, the puppy’s senses start to come to life and begin to function normally. During the first critical period, these senses were already present in the puppy, but they were in a dormant state. On the twenty-first day, there is a reawakening.
Second Phase 21-28 days
This is the time when the puppy needs its mother more than at any other point in its development. Both the brain and the nervous system start to develop at this stage. They are becoming aware of their surroundings and appear to be experiencing some level of fear as a result. Taking a young animal away from its mother at this stage will have a direct and immediate impact on the puppy’s continued mental and emotional development. The puppy is discovering that it is difficult to be alive in the modern world. Any negative events that occur during this stage can have a significant influence on the dog later on in its life.
Third Phase 5th -7th weeks of age
The point at which the puppy starts to venture out and become a little more independent from the mother and the other puppies in the litter is now. This is where education starts. They learn to growl, play, and challenge each other as well as how to be disciplined by their mother. They also end up developing a healthy dose of healthy competition. The capacity for training has been developed, and the pup is now ready to start learning.
Fourth Phase 8th-12th weeks of age
The time has come for the pup to leave its litter and go to his or her new home, where he or she will begin training and learning with his or her new family. Since the pup is now ready for learning experiences, this is the appropriate time for a pup to leave its litter. During this stage of development, the puppy absorbs information at a lightning-fast rate.
Fifth Phase 13th -16th weeks of age
At this stage in its life, the puppy has moved into its new home. Be on guard, owners, because this is the stage when a puppy will attempt to compete with you for the position of dominant. They will test your level of tolerance as well as how much they can get away with doing here in order to determine how much they can get away with. When a puppy is allowed to get away with more during this stage of its development, the risk increases that the dog will grow up to have less respect for its owner. This may result in behavioral issues that, if not corrected through training and obedience, can snowball into more serious problems. The beginning of the formal obedience should occur here. This will help the dog develop into the best version of himself or herself that they are capable of becoming.
A puppy will be able to develop to its fullest potential if its owner is aware of the critical developmental phases that it will go through, provides the appropriate environment for the puppy to grow in during these phases, and teaches the puppy various learning techniques. The manner in which you guide your dog through these stages of growth will dictate the type of adult dog you end up with in the years to come.