Critical Periods From 3 To 16 Weeks Of Age
Studies have shown that a puppy goes through the Critical Periods of social development from birth to 12 weeks. Some include the 12 to 16 week period as critical also, but all testimony points to the 3 to 7 week period as being the most important of all. This, of course, is why new puppy owners must only purchase their pups from a reputable breeder that takes the time to properly socialize the new member of your family. Socializing in the early stages of a pupís life could mean the difference between an animal that is a valued member of the family or the Tasmanian Devil! The latter pup, I am sure you will agree, should stay in TasmaniaÖ The breeder that places the responsibility for a pupís mental stability on the new owner is completely ignoring that most crucial month when they are between 21 and 49 days old and still in the breederís care. This is when the pupís ability to function in society, adjust to new surroundings and develop the desire to please humans is in the breederís hands alone. During this month the pup must gain the self-confidence that will enable it to learn self-control later on. Assuming that responsible breeders want their pups to fit easily into most situations.
22 to 28 Days
At 3 weeks old the pup is just starting to view his surroundings and his world of human beings. This
is when socializing a pup should begin. The puppyís first social relationships begin at this time and humans should be a part of this. I usually start with 5 minutes per puppy every day. The key
factor is taking the puppy away from its litter mates. Talk to the pup and pet it.
This introduces him to human scent and touch. This should begin to give the pup a sense of his individuality and a basis for relating with humans. At this time I introduce play and curiosity to stimulate their senses. Toys and different noises are added at the end of the third week. They are also exposed to different textures in footing including carpets and steps. Other adult dogs in the Crystal Creek Pack are also introduced. My dogs usually will let other females introduce themselves by sniffing and licking. This gets the pups ready to accept other adult dogs more readily.
The second part to socializing during this time is introducing solid foods. When isolating them from the litter I introduce them to a liquid gruel to reinforce the bonding to humans at an early age.
I believe this is what makes wonderful pets.
29 to 35 Days
This is the time I introduce children and adults of both sexes to the pups and increase their personal attention to 15 minutes.
They do tire quickly so I limit the amount of children exposure. They eat in the kitchen separately at least once per day and are exposed to life with humans in their environment. Vacuums are run, pots are clanged, stairs are climb and other everyday noises, smells and activities are experienced. At this time they are also exposed to a car engine running and the smells associated with that ordeal. Of course, toys, toys, toys are played with!
36 to 42 Days
This begins the time that is so Crucial to puppy socialization!
To fail now with the socialization process would be a calamity to say the least. If a puppy receives too little interaction from this time on, adjusting to humans will be problematical for the rest of its life. By the end of the sixth week, much of its personality is formed. Each pup needs more time away from litter mates and whenever someone walks in the door they are handed a puppy. I often welcome the help of the families that have a hold on one of the pups to help with this task. We want the pup to have a confident self-image of himself while being submissive to its human handler and family. They will all have turns watching television, exploring a crate, watching house work being done and brought from room to room to explore and gain confidence.
Keep This In Mind...
At the end of six weeks I will have a good idea of their personalities and what families will do best with which pup.
On the weekend of the eighth week it is pick your pup day. I will suggest a few pups that match up with your situation and that you can choose from. Contrary to most beliefs, if the socializing goes well the pups will not vary much with basic German Shepherd characteristics. They do have their own spirit and individual personality that you will not be able to live without! This is a good time to bring on all the tests you want to give your pup. There are many. Or just ask me what he/she will be like and I am confident I will get it pretty darn close.
When deciding on a personality you would like for your pup, remember there are extremes with social, dominant, passive or indifferent traits.
Everyone wants the perfect dog but if you pick the cute one because it comes to you and seems like it wants to go home with you then be ready for a dog that needs to be with you all the time. If you pick the pup that is standoffish or indifferent this might be exactly what you are looking for. He will be the one that is independent and confident. They will both have the basic GSD personality but lean towards one extreme or the other. Ask me for advice and guidance on this matter. I do my best to match up the right owner with the right Crystal Creek pup.