Brain development stages
Dogs go through brain development stages, beginning in puppyhood through to adulthood. To make the best of training your Labrador, it’s important that you understand these development stages, which help you tailor your training and understand why the puppy is doing certain behaviours.
Neonatal Period 0-12 Days
The puppy responds only to warmth, touch and smell. Eyes and ears are closed. He cannot regulate body functions such as temperature and elimination.
Transition Period 13-28 Days
Eyes and ears are open, but sight and hearing are limited. Tail wagging begins and they begin to control body functions.
Awareness Period 21-28 Days
Sight and hearing function well. The puppy is learning that he is a dog and has a great deal of need for stable environment.
Canine Socialization Period 21-49 Days
Interacting with his mother and littermates, the pup learns various canine behaviours. He is now aware of the difference between human and canine societies.
Human Socialization Period 7-12 Weeks
The pup has the brain wave of an adult dog. The best time for going to a new home. He now has the ability to learn respect, simple behavioural responses. Housebreaking begins. He now learns by association. The permanent man/dog bond begins, and he is able to accept gentle disciple and establish confidence.
Fear Impact Period 8-11 Weeks
Try to avoid frightening the puppy during this time, since traumatic experiences can have an effect during this period. As you can see, this period overlaps that of the previous definition and children or animal should not be allowed to hurt or scare the puppy – either maliciously or inadvertently. It is very important now to introduce other humans, but he must be closely supervised to minimize adverse conditioning. Learning at this age is permanent.
Also introducing your puppy to other dogs at this time will help him become more socialized. If available in your area, a doggy puppy school is great for this.
Seniority Classification Period 13-16 Weeks
This critical period is also known as the “Age of Cutting” – cutting teeth and cutting apron strings. At this age, the puppy begins testing dominance and leadership. Biting behaviour is absolutely discouraged from thirteen weeks on. Praise for the correct behaviour response is the most effective tool. Meaningful praise is highly important to shape positive attitude.
Flight Instinct Period 4-8 Months
During this period puppies test their wings – they will turn a deaf ear when called. This period lasts from a few days to several weeks. It is critical to praise the positive and minimize the negative behaviour during this time. However, you must learn how to achieve the correct response. This period corresponds to teething periods, and behavioural problems become compounded by physiological development chewing.
Second Fear Impact Period 6-14 Months
Also called, “The fear of situations period”, usually corresponds to growths spurts. This critical age may depend on the size of the dog. Small dogs tend to experience these periods earlier than large dogs. Great care must be taken not to reinforce negative behaviour. Force can frighten the dog, and soothing tones serve to encourage his fear. His fear should be handled with patience and kindness, and training during this period puts the dog in a position of success, while allowing him to work things out while building self-confidence.
Maturity 1-4 Years
The average dog develops to full maturity between 1 ½ to 2 years and three years of age. Sometimes there is a renewed testing of leadership. Regular training throughout this testing period, praise him for the proper response. The dog should respect you and have good grounds to further his training, maybe with areas such as competitive obedience and retrieval trials. This keeps his mind and body active while continuing to affirm respect and obedience.