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The most crucial moment in a puppy’s growth is throughout the first year, in particular during the first 4 months of life.
First 4 Months of Age: The Imprinting Period
Puppies have a tiny window of time during brain development when they are most impressionable. This is called the imprinting period.
Here’s a cute video showing a Boxer puppy development from 8 week old 12 lbs to 1 year old 70 lbs+ in less than 5 minutes:
Puppies learn more during this period than they can learn in a life time. Consequently, the quality and quantity of what they experience will have a large impact on their future personalities.
The Imprinting Period is further sub-divided into 2 puppy-stages:
- First 7 Weeks (Neonatal Period, Transition Period, and 1st Socialization Period): Puppies gain use of all the senses, become mobile, start growing baby teeth, transition to eating solid foods, and become totally independent from their dog moms.
- 7-16 Weeks (2nd Socialization Period): The ideal time for puppies to be placed with their new human families is at 7-8 weeks of age. As soon as your puppy comes home, you should to provide a huge heaping of high quality socialization and schooling. At around 8-11 weeks of age, the puppy experiences the Fear-Impact Period. If puppies have “bad” or scary experiences during this time, the impressions will probably last the entire life and resurface during maturity.
4–6 Months: Juvenile Period
Your puppy will get more energy, and come to be more “mouthy” and stressed from the discomfort of teething. During this time, the puppy will also become sexually mature, so this is a great time to get your puppy spayed or neutered… Starting in the 5th month, there may be a Second Fear-Impact Period that lasts for 3 weeks.
6–12 Months: Adolescent Period
This is generally a hard time for many puppy parents, especially for those with puppies that skipped early establishment of boundaries, socialization and training. Your puppy will probably have a lot more energy, spend more hours exploring the environment, become very easily distracted, and may even seem less interested in you…