The K9 Companion class began as an entry level training course for dogs that are 6 months or older. The concepts, however, can be used for all ages of dogs including puppies. The class introduces you to reward-based training techniques that will help you communicate to your dog a basic vocabulary of commands and will strengthen the bond you have with your dog to help make him or her a better house companion. Please review all the weeks because information in latter weeks make be useful immediately. Certainly there are various sequences in which the exercises may be taught and you should do what works best for you and your K9 Companion.

Dog Development

Like humans, dogs go through development stages only dogs go through them quickly. The window of opportunity is short and the maturity level arrives much sooner than humans. We are different species and to fully understand where the dog is coming from, we need to educate ourselves about them. In brief here is an outline of the dog’s development.

NEONATAL: Birth to 12 days. Learning begins at birth. The pup is blind and doesn’t hear very well.

TRANSITION PERIOD: 13 to 20 days. The pup’s eyes open, he hears and starts to eat solids.

PRIMARY SOCIALIZATION PERIOD: 3 to 7 weeks. Adult vision is reached at about 8 weeks the pup begins to learn from good experiences (positive reinforcement). He learns from litter mates not to bite too hard (bite inhibition) and learns to relate with others by play. The mother now begins to wean pups.

HUMAN SOCIALIZATION PERIOD: 7 to 12 or 14 weeks. This is when the most rapid learning occurs and experiences during this time will impact future social behavior. It iis a very important learning stage because socialization has largest influence on pup up until 14 weeks.

FEAR IMPACT: 8 to 11 weeks. If puppies learn from bad experiences, they tend to remember the negative things that happen to them. Things that frighten him could have a lasting effect. This is a tricky stage and it’s a critical time to manage and/or eliminate negative influences, and encourage and maintain a positive environment.

JUVENILE PERIOD: 8 weeks to 12 months. A lot of physical growing occurs at this time with height growth starts and finishes at puberty. Puppy fluff is replaced by adult coat and he’s loosing baby teeth and developing adult teeth. This is the time to offer a lot of appropriate items for your pup to chew because chewing is a natural necessity for dogs. Your pup begins to mature sexually and a female has their first heat between 6 and 12 months. Usually, spaying or neutering is done at about 6 months.

ADOLESCENT PERIOD: 4 to 14 months. Apron strings are cut now and your dog is testing limits. Where once he was very dependable staying in the yard, now he wanders off. His attitude is “there’s a big world out there and I’m going to check it out”! He doesn’t need mom or dad any more (or so he thinks.) However, he needs you more than ever to mark boundaries and give direction. He may not come when called and may stop playing fetch. This is a time when he’s testing you to see if the rules are still the same.

SECOND FEAR PERIOD: 5 to 14 months. During this time he may suddenly show signs of apprehension about new or familiar people or objects. Handle this period with patience and do not coddle this behavior. Use a matter of fact approach. Never force a dog to go to the object of fear. Instead, guide them to observe and approach when they are comfortable. Usually once they see the object is nothing to fear, they get over their discomfort.

MATURITY: 1 to 4 years. This stage refers to social maturity and keep in mind that smaller dogs mature sooner than larger dogs. If you have been lax in socializing and training, you may blatantly see what you have missed by their behavior such as object and territorial guarding, assertive reactions toward people and other animals just to name a few. You may also witness a “third” fear period around 14 – 18 months. Again, acknowledge this stage, and work through this positively.

As you may notice a lot of these developmental stages overlap. Like people, no two dogs develop at the same pace. Every dog develops at different rates, and has different fears and issues he goes through. Remember, just because your dog has reached the maturity period, doesn’t mean he will behave perfectly all the time. The relationship you have with your dog needs to be worked on throughout your time together. Some dogs need more guidance or “reminders” on how to live compatibly in the human world. If you want your dog to have trust in you, to look up to you and to respect you, you must first respect him. One way to gain respect is to understand why he does what he does.


The Ultimate Puppy toolkit by Premier Pet Products, and The new Knowledge of Dog Behavior – Clarence Pfaffenberger

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