The Critical Socialization Phase

Aug 06, 2021

Being Intentional

You hear a lot about the critical socialization phase in puppies, but what exactly does this mean and why is it so important? Why should you, as a breeder, be taking advantage of this critical time the puppies are in your care?


In a nutshell… 


The critical socialization phase is the period of time when a puppy is 3-16 weeks of age. At this point they have developed all of their senses and are now starting to explore and experience the world around them. Science has shown that it is during this phase that it takes very little time, effort, and exposures to shape emotions, behaviors, and the ability to recover from new or frightening experiences. 



That is a window of roughly 13 weeks to set the foundation for the rest of a puppy's life!!


As a breeder, do you fully recognize the POWER you hold in not only setting your puppies up to succeed, but also in communicating to your new puppy homes the power THEY hold as they pick up where you left off?


One of my favorite parts of working with a litter of puppies is watching them learn how to learn and discover that not only do they have a voice, but also that they are capable of communicating with their humans. 


The moment a puppy looks me in the eyes for validation and clarification never gets old… It's the type of moment that dreams are made of!! (Not to mention studies have found that your brain releases the feel good chemical oxytocin when you catch your dog looking at you.)


Now, you may be asking yourself, “how am I going to put the necessary time into helping my puppies during this critical phase? What can I do to make sure their intellectual and emotional needs are being met?” Well, it's your lucky day, because this is one of my favorite questions to answer!! 


Play With a Purpose and Be Intentional!!!

Remember, as mentioned above… It has been scientifically proven that it takes VERY LITTLE time, effort, and exposures to shape emotions, behaviors, and the ability to recover from new or frightening experiences. The interactions you have with your puppies, regardless of the amount of time spent, can and will stick with them for the rest of their lives. 


So, let's focus more on being intentional, playing with a purpose, and celebrating what we are able to incorporate! Remember that every effort counts and that we all start somewhere! 


Socialization takes on many forms. It may look like startling a litter of puppies at the appropriate age, inviting young children in to visit when it is safe to do so, providing obstacles and frustration challenges, resource guarding exercises, or even practicing restraint while loving on them. By simply being intentional, you can and will make a MAJOR DIFFERENCE in the lives of your puppies!!


If you want more information on what a successful transition from the breeder to a new puppy home looks like, you can visit our website here. You can also read about our New Puppy Transition course here that covers all of the topics mentioned above.


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