The third week of the puppies’ lives begins the critical socialization period, and now the real fun begins. Things are going to begin flying fast and furious at us as far as developmental periods and windows of opportunity go,the first 12 weeks of life are the most important for socialization.
“Socialization” of puppies (or dogs), I beleive is one of the most commonly misused words, most likely because socialization in human sociology means a life-time learning. However, when we speak of puppies, the window of “socialization” is fixed/specific. You see, puppies can only learn basic canine behaviors when their brain is still very flexible. It is a very similar process to human babies acquiring the first language. If a baby is not exposed to any human language within the so called “critical age” his ability to learn a language is lost forever, as brain physiology changes.
My core task as a breeder is to teach puppies to be enrichment/novelty seekers, and to trust that the world holds good things for them. To that end, in this first week of the socialization period we begin inviting potential puppy owners over to meet us and help begin the socialization process.
We have already begun to introduce at least one new toy, visual object, or experience to the puppies each day during this week.
Pictures to be posted SOON! 🙂
It always amazes me how you can put three or four toys down, with only one of being new and never seen before, and the puppies will swarm the new one! But something as basic as being taken out to walk on the grass for the fist time or in the winter, out to walk on the living room rug for a minute is equally novel and good. The ideas are endless.
Today we will putting down a sheet of foil in the whelping box for a minute or two for them to explore, and later this week will be adding a potty pan with pet litter and removing the potty pads. At this age, every new experience triggers the startle/recover/ curiosity exploration cycle.
If you are interested in learning more about the critial socialization period for puppies, we highly recommend the Puppy Culture DVDs.