The breeder’s responsibility from birth to 8 weeks old

Applies to shelters and foster homes, too

An important developmental window closes at about 16 weeks of age. Early experiences help shape a puppy’s world view.

Dr. Sophia Yin’s blog about puppy development is very important.

For a carefully planned puppy who is off to a smooth start

  • Select healthy, well-adjusted parents
  • Provide early handling according to “super puppy” protocol
  • Wait until puppies sit before picking them up
  • Introduce practical handling experiences: ears, feet, gentle restraint
  • Expose the puppies to many new objects, surfaces, sights, sounds, and people
  • Give the mother every opportunity to nurse and train the puppies up to the age of 7 weeks
  • House the puppies separately by the time they are 8 weeks old: let them play together under supervision, then separate crates or pens for naps
  • Teach the puppies to love their crates or pens and dash into them when cued
  • Teach the puppies a cue that means they are about to be picked up
  • Teach the puppies to play interactively with people: tug, fetch
  • Continue to allow the mother or other older dogs to interact with the puppies as long as they remain on site
  • Teach the puppy to eat from a human hand
  • If puppy becomes injured or ill, do everything possible to include all of the above experiences and understand that you will have a dog with issues right from the start
  • Purposely continue to shape pup’s world view before developmental stage ends at about 16 weeks
  • Work at the dog’s pace – push forward patiently

For an unplanned puppy or one who is off to a rough start:

  • Wait for the dog to sit (or any behavior of your choice) before giving attention
  • Introduce practical handling experiences: ears, feet, gentle restraint
  • Expose the dog to many new objects, surfaces, sights, sounds, and people without making them anxious
  • Limit the dog’s options by using a crate or pen or tether when not actively training
  • Teach the dog to love its crate or pen and dash inside when cued
  • Teach the dog to play interactively with people: tug, fetch
  • Teach the puppy to eat from a human hand
  • If puppy becomes injured or ill, do everything possible to include all of the above experiences and understand that you will have a dog with issues right from the start
  • Purposely continue to shape pup’s world view before developmental stage ends at about 16 weeks
  • Work at the dog’s pace – push forward patiently
  • Expose the dog to other safe, well-socialized dogs regularly without creating anxiety (