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.kennel di Ala D'Oro Bracco Italiano
.Jaap Muller & Tina Steffens

Socialize Puppies

Socializing puppy's while they are still with a breeder is very important. We spend a lot of time and attention to our puppy's while there in our house. The result after 8 weeks of high care is very positive as well for the puppy's as for the new owners. All this makes it for us worth while to keep on doing it like we do.

Why do we socialize the puppies.

n nature the leader of a peck of wild dogs or wolves take over the upbringing from the mother when the puppy's are four weeks old. As a breeder we have to take over this role and let the puppy's get used to strange things in the house, they have to meet other people, children, other animals and all kind of new sounds and smells.
Dogs pass through several phases in there lives and from impressing phase witch's starts when they are four weeks old until the grow to maturity it is important to pay lots of attention to upbringing the puppy's and let them get used by there surroundings. From the impressing phase until the grow to maturity is the moment when dogs learn easy and fast. So we have to make use of this phases. We try to do our best to socialize our puppy's as good as possible. Our puppy's grow up in our house. When the puppy's have had there first vaccination (at 6 weeks) we take them by car to places where they can meet other people and see and hear other, not familiar things. We start as early as possible with house training (this is between the 4th or 5th week) and we also start to learn the puppy's that sleeping in a bench (small kennel in the house) is a normal thing, so when they go to there new owner they are used to this and feel secure and save. During the 8 weeks in our house, the puppy's are our responsibility and we put a lot of time and afford in them.

Every age a different phase:

Vegetative phase / Neonatal phase (0 until 3 weeks)
The puppy is blind and deaf and only drink, sleep and squeak. The sense of smell is already there.


Transitional phase (3 until 4 weeks)
In the third week after being born the eyes and ears open up. The puppy's are going to walk and discover the litter hole, the puppy's are going to stimulate the mother dog to throw up her food for them by robbing her mouth. In nature the puppy's shall try to leave the litter hole when they are around 18 days.

The other dogs in the peck will throw themselves on these puppy's and the puppy's will scream and lay down on there back and try to go back to the litter hole as soon as they can. De puppy's now have learn; Absolute obedience to all dogs who are higher in peck rang; Subject to every dog in the herd who is higher in peck rang; The litter hole is a safe place for them.

Impressing phase (4 until 7 weeks) The puppy is now fully developed. In this short period the puppy's must, as much as possible, have positive contact with humans and animals. Exactly at the age of 7 weeks our puppy's have to take the puppy test, here we can see if the puppy is social and if they have nature hunting ability. Does the pup grows up in a isolated area, like in a puppy shed, then the puppy grows up as a socially inhibited dog, who will always be afraid of human and other animals and bite extremely fast out of fear.

Socialisation phase and first phase of emotional instability (8 until 12 weeks).
The puppy's can now go to there new homes. Let the puppy gradual used to cars, busses, trains, shopping malls etc. Until now the puppy was aloud to do what ever he wanted to do, but this has to change in this period. In nature the education of the puppy's are on the shoulders of the older dogs followed by peck rang, to begin with the father or when is he not around the mother on extremely authoritarian way. When the puppy takes his place in a human world, it is necessary that he learns in this period to accept a human as his educator and authorial. When the owner play games with the puppy, the puppy is never aloud to win. In this period you have to take care that the puppy comes in contact with all kind of dogs. Otherwise he will become a human dog who has trouble to understand dog behaviour. When the puppy get older this could give problems in nature of aggressive or panic behaviour when you walk him in a park or other places where strange dogs comes.

We can housetrain the puppy easy by take him outside after eating, sleeping and playing. Take him to the place were he is aloud to do his needs, and he will understand very fast not to do it in your house anymore (it is normal to have little accidents now and then). You have to learn the puppy to respect your furniture, other small pets like rabbit etc. Of course you have to let him have his own toy's, dog toy's of ofcourse. Between 8 and 10 weeks the puppy goes to through his first period of emotional instability, this is a period with's can leave fear impressions easily. Try to avoid strange, fearful and unexpected situations.

Juvenile phase (13 weeks until 9 month) with:
The first herd phase (13 until 16 weeks).
Second herd phase (16 weeks until 9 month) with again a
period of emotional instability (16 until 20 weeks).
In nature this period is characteristic for the pups to take in there place in the herd. Puppy's will try to get there particular place in the herd in beginning just by showing physical power among the other puppy's, but this primitive way soon makes place for recognition of there personality and self-assuredness.
Especially in relation of there father this will come out the best. This would be for us the best moment to make a start with simple exercises like: sit on command or retrieve a bal. Retrieve games during the period that the puppy is changing his teeth is not recommended because they could associate pain in the mouth with the retrieve material. By doing this practise the right peck order will be developed and the puppy will be more docile. You don't do these training more then ones a day, but repeat this the next days. After a couple of days the puppy understands what you mean. Other commando's you learn him the same way, we only teach the dog by rewarding him, never by punishing him.

The second herd phase. In this period it is good to extensive the obedience training and take this more serious then before. This not means that you have to start shouting or punishing him! No, you are going to exercise the puppy on a friendly way and only with rewarding. This way you achieve more. Now is a good moment to enter a puppy trainings class. Here you meet other people and other dogs and when you choose the right association you get feedback from the trainer.
Second period of emotional instability. Between 16 and 20 weeks the puppy goes through the second period of emotional instability, even when the puppy is socialize good and not fear human he can react very heavy to strange people and different surroundings. Try to avoid strange, fearful and unexpected situations. In this period it is more wrong to punish the puppy physically (NB: is always wrong), because they don't seem to know how to handle this pressure.

Grow to maturity (9 month until 2 year - depending with's breed)
This phase does not bring much news, although we call this phase also the "puberty phase". The experience witch's are in the puppy's memory can now explored and we can build further on the good behaviour and obedience. You have to have patience with your dog, your dog have lots of patience with you! From our experience with Bracchi we can say that this breed is mental and physical mature between the age of 20 until 27 month. Do you have a male then you see he will physical grow until he is 27 month minimum.

Old age phase (7 / 13 year - depending with's breed)
A dog age can be compare with a human age but we have to make a multiplication with the number 7. (example: your dog is 10 years old- compare it with human age and we say 10 X 7 = the dog is 70 years old) You have to adapt your activities to his age. You also have to look at his food consumption. Normally a old dog is less active and when you don't change the food consumption it is possible that he will grow to fat.



Di Ala D'Oro - Muller & Steffens