Understand that you must have a healthy, sound pup to start with. Genetics dictate a dogs base temperament. With a well bred pup, additional socialization will help your pup reach his/her full potential. We can't stress this enough.In addition to genetic pre-disposition in regards to temperament, environmental and social experiences also make lasting impressions on a developing puppy. Important stages in a puppies development begins at birth and peaks at eight weeks. From eight to sixteen weeks of age, this window slowly begins to close. By sixteen weeks of age, the experiences, or lack of experiences during this time will shape your pup for the rest of its life:
BIRTH > 2 WEEKSAt this point in time, it is impossible for a pup to regulate their body temperature or eliminate without their mother’s stimulation. They are blind and deaf yet very aware of direct contact.
Handling the pups properly during days 1-16 have been proven to develop "Super Dogs" when in learning or competitive situations. They are better able to handle stress, are more social and learn more quickly. Mild stress at an early age has even been proven to increase brain size. Read specifically about the Bio-Sensor "Super Dog" method we practice during this time.
2 > 3 WEEKSEyes and ears begin to open. They now hear and can respond to taste and smell. This is when we introduce items to the whelping box such as a stuffed toys, small squeaky toys or a knotted sock for example. It is also important to continue picking up the pups daily, love them, talk to them, and spend a few minutes with each one individually. This is also a time of rapid sensory development. Keeping in mind not to stress them too much, we begin to take them two at a time to new floor surfaces for a few short minutes at a time. We take different pairs each time and introduce a new surface such as concrete, tile, wood, carpet, pea gravel, etc. Taking them in pairs will make it less stressful to the pups. Very mild auditory stimuli is also introduced, such as a radio or soft music playing softly in the background.
3 > 7 WEEKSPuppy is now learning to be a dog. He should continue to live with his mom and littermates during this period. He will learn how to stop his mother’s discipline by acting submissively. Pups should not be weaned too early. We start them on solids but also keep mom available to them. A puppy removed from its mother and litter during this time can become noisy, have a discipline problem, or be a fighter. The mother is allowed as much time with the pups as she wants. She will naturally begin to spend a little less time with them on her own.
Puppy Socialization and Habituation ~Instead of socialization and habituation being haphazard with experiences occurring at random, the puppy's exposure to environmental stimuli should be as systematic as possible to ensure the best chance of it developing a sound temperament and capacity to cope in all circumstances. A lot of responsibility lies with us as your breeder.
Make sure that some degree of socialization and habituation has taken place. Hopefully you have sought out a breeder who will let you see the puppies with mum in their living quarters prior to the "go home” age of eight weeks. Searching questions should reveal a breeder's awareness of the need for a puppy's environmental enrichment, but the proof of the pudding is the reaction of the puppies themselves! They should appear to be content and confident. A mild
reaction to a startling sound and a quick recovery from it is ideal. Most telling of all is the puppies' response to the presence of strangers, i.e you when you go to visit. They should be willing to approach and investigate the newcomers and be happy to allow themselves to be handled!
You must also observe the behavior of their mum and any other dogs that are in the vicinity of the puppies. If the puppies have grown up in the company of a nervous or aggressive dog they may have learned to be fearful or aggressive from its example. Many guides have been written on how to choose an individual puppy from a litter; the subject is somewhat beyond the scope of this page. However, we recommend that several points of view are sought and that you are ruled by your head and not you heart.
To leave a litter to mom alone with little to no contact with people makes one a puppy farmer/producer/miller, but not a breeder by any stretch of the imagination.
Depending on each pup in the litter, weeks 7 is the usually best time for us to complete the POLISHED PUPPY Assessment/Evaluation. The brain waves of the puppy are the same as a mature dog, but the puppy has not had any outside influences to slant his view. If the puppies have been properly socialized and have not been traumatized in their first weeks, our comprehensive assessment is a sound, reliable measure of their suitability for whatever role in life they are expected to fulfill. It can be an excellent aid in placing puppies in working situations or compatible pet homes.
Breeders have an important responsibility to provide proper experiences for the puppies they have bred. Mom did not ask to be pregnant and the puppies did not ask to be born. Now that they have arrived as the breeder planned, the breeder must take responsibility and socialize these same pups with diligence, care and sincerity.
From about three weeks of age when the learning stage begins, to 14-16 weeks of age, the character of a dog is formed. No matter how good his inherited character traits, if they are not socialized during this period, they will never be as good a dog as they could have been. It is also necessary for you to understand that a poorly bred pup will not have the basic foundation needed to benefit anywhere near as much from this early training. A poorly bred pup is not capable of reaching it's maximum potential.
All working dogs including but not limited to; Therapy dogs, Police K-9's, Seeing eye dogs (and others) are purposely raised in this fashion and socialized during this time in a clear effort to mold well adjusted, confident, social animals.