Thinking of getting a puppy?

Things to consider first…

The Breeder

The first 8 weeks of life are just as important as the rest. Make sure you ask your breeder plenty of questions. For example, what socialisation has been done (to people, objects, sounds, surfaces)? A breeder that follows Puppy Culture is a great start! It’s a program based on behavioural markers for brain development. I also recommend going and visiting the breeder so you can see where the puppy has been raised. Also, spending time with both parents is important as it gives you a window into what the puppy is likely to grow into. While environmental factors play a big role, so do genetics.

Growth periods which are important to know

Human Socialisation period is from 0-12 weeks

Canine Socialisation period is from 0-16 weeks

Puppies will learn more during this period of time than any other time in their life.

Social interaction: puppies learn things like play bite inhibition from its mother and littermates. They should also be handled by the breeder to help with human bonding.

This is the best time for a puppy to go to its new home. It should have already had handling from the breeder, had a good start to socialisation, started basic behaviours like sit and recall and toilet training should be started. They are now able to learn by associations and accept direction from the owner. This is where the owner/dog bonding starts.

First fear period (Fear Imprint)

  • Avoid frightening the pup
  • Introduce people, dogs, places and experiences in a controlled and positive manner.

Learning at this stage is permanent.


Provide your pup with appropriate outlets for chewing and implement good management strategies early.

Flight Instinct and Play Instinct

  • Puppies start to test their wings. They seem to ignore you and wander further afield.
  • Important to reward positive behaviour and manage the puppy to avoid rehearsing undesirable behaviours.
  • Also coincides with the teething period and so some behavioural problems are compounded with physiological.
  • Toilet training may also take a step backwards

Second Fear Period or Fear of New Situations

  • Your dog may become fearful of new and sometimes even familiar situations
  • It’s important to be very patient during this time and never force your pup into situations they appear anxious or unsure about. Always go at your puppy’s pace
  • Tends to correspond with growth spurts, therefore small dogs tend to experience these periods earlier
  • Use training and management to help build confidence and foster successful, positive interactions and experiences

Maturity Period

The average dog develops to full maturity between 12-18 months, up to 3 years. Regular training and guidance are needed throughout this time. Using positive, reward based training methods will help to create a confident, well mannered, and accepted canine citizen and family member.

Let puppies be puppies…

Correct socialisation is the most important thing you will do for your puppy in the first 6-12 months of its life. Making sure all new experiences are positive will help to shape a well rounded dog.

Guide Dogs send their puppies off into foster homes until they are 12 months old. Then they return to their facility for intense training for their Assistance Dog work, before being placed with their handler between 12-18 months of age. From this, we can see the importance of letting our puppies experience life and be gently guided through this first 12 months. This is a crucial part of their physical and emotional development and will set them up for the best chance at a good working life with their handler.