I thought I should write a little bit about the phases puppies pass until they become adults and a bit about what I try to focus at during each phase.
Up to the age of 6 weeks most breeds aren’t even toddlers! Some stay in that phase until they are 12 weeks and are not ready to leave their mother until that. The breeds we have had has all been finishing their preschool age at the age of 7 weeks. So from that age they have been abe to focus on here and now. And that makes them trainable. That’s is also the age we do their testing or description- how do they handle stress, what kind of game do they prefer, how close to a unknown human do they prefer to work. Their noticeable space is about 1-4 meters and things with out feet on the ground are like a radio, not really there.
In this age you can work on contact and positive experiences with a human. They have their own personality’s already but the have no expectations when it comes to humans, and that is what we build during this age. Until around 10 weeks, smells outdoors are noticed but not explored. Their space is about 1-7 meters around them, and everything out side that space is like a radio (not really there or important). That’s why most puppies this age think it’s okay to take a leak in the room next to their bed, it’s outside their space. This age is when you introduced everything you want the puppy to know that can be done in your garden. Because they are in no need of experience the rest of the world. Building the connection with their human is enough. The puppy is extremely absorbing and trainable, and you need to think of how you want it to act in the future. If you will be working in the morning, don’t do all the activities in the morning. Make mornings relaxed and slow. Massage, relaxed and slow activities and slow soft movements and voices from your side makes this easier. Make routines like it will be in the future, just shorter and split up in smaller bits. I teach them yes and no during this period but tend not to use the no. I reward the parts I want to keep, ignoring a lot of the faults and just hope that a lot of those things are going to end well with out my interference.
At around 10(-12) week up to 4(-5) months of age the bubble bursts! They all of a sudden widen their space and become aware of the world! This is when they need more experiences, stop following you spontaneously and the sweet adorable puppy becomes a crocodile that pulls the leash and run in the opposite direction that you try to make it 😅
Or this is the phase where you never recall if it isn’t running towards you in full speed, never let it go with out a leash if you’re not one hundred percent sure it will follow and you have to remind yourself to praise you chewing puppy 7-10 times for every no you say. But it is also when most puppies become potty trained all by themselves (it will happen even if their kept in a Kennel and never thought where they shall or not shall do their natural needs.)
This is when I say no to chewing on hands, and the second it doesn’t chew I praise, cuddle and reward it. It feels like an extremely intense and never ending period when you are in it, and this is the phases most dogs begin to chase children and steal clothes and toys. Because they ask, like a two year old ‘is this okay?’ And this, and that and what about this? Let them process, let them think and try to figure things out. Help them to become sure. And yes you can say no, but the second after has to be about rewarding the right behaviour. Help them to become the puppy you want it to be and shape it into the youngster you love.
But it is a phase! It will pass and you will have a sensitive and absorbing 6 months old soon. Most puppies grow a lot in height during this phase, and they are tense, sore and losing teeth at this age, that will add to their behaviour. Walk off road (not along the paths) make it easier through massage, stretching, hind quarter control and balance exercises.
The phase between 6-9 months is “tweety”
No teenage angst, no baby problems - just a sweet period when they feel happy and capable. And all those problems you experienced with your 5 months old seems to be a fast fading memory. You can extend lengths of the recall, push forward and most dogs are great to work with.then all of a sudden they turn 9 months (or around that age) and you have an anxious teenager acting out like a toddler. Everything is complicated, even the things that worked when it was 10 weeks seems difficult now.
This is the time when I get most dogs for problem solving and most phone calls.
But if you think of your puppy as a teenager, keep the rules simple, reward even the tiniest step in the right direction and keep the critiques minimal. Then you will probably come out of this phase too with a great friend. They might have to have even a recall done in a fenced in area, with a leash and work in shorter distances than 2 meters, but if you succeed in every recall instead of argue about them, you will walk out of this period with a more stable and relaxed dog. This phase takes place at around 9-12 months.
Go to the playground and get experiences that differ from your every day experiences and go down town. Trying visiting a dog show, agility and anything that is out of the ordinary, for you and your dog.
Then you have a phase between around 12 months up to around 15 months, that is brilliant! If you backed down enough during the teenage phase you will probably be able to extend booth time, distance and pressure to a totally new level.
At around 15-24 months of age (it differs a lot between breeds and type of breed) the hunt gears exploded! If you have a dog that is supposed to find game, it will all of a sudden gear up and go wider, deeper and faster than ever. Even breeds that are not supposed to follow game can all off a sudden become interested and start hunting.
Back to short distances, secure places and sure succeess, keep it simple and with clear and few rules. So much is processed in their brains that it might take them more time than ever to make a choice or decision then it has taken them earlier. Let them process, let it take time - and all of sudden you will have an sensible adult in your household. It will be worth it ❤️
Well all of us write here, both humans and dogs ;) At least that was the plan but it seems it´s mostly me Robyn who´s attached to the keyboard...