Puppies, Arriving Home: Fear Imprint Stage, Tip Two

November 30, 2010

This is the second article in my four part series about bringing home puppies:

  1. Before you bring the puppy home
  2. Fear imprint stage
  3. New home: a scary place
  4. The first night

Puppies arriving at their new home, what a frightening experience.    Here’s an example:  Let’s say that beyond your control, you are ordered to go colonize Mars. Yes, Mars, not exactly close to home and up0on arrival you truly realize how alone and helpless you have become.  Sounds far out, yes?   Well, do you suppose a puppy could feel a bit like that when suddenly rousted from the only secure home he has ever known?  Suddenly his siblings and trusted mother are gone and he is plunked at a strange house with scents that are completely unfamiliar.  There is no way for him to get back to his secure and protective, canine mother.

And to adding to the complexity, the pup is just entering the highly critical Fear Imprint Stage which hits him between 8-10 weeks old.   The first of two fear stages is entering his life at exactly the same time you are taking your eight-week-old puppy home.  What does this mean?  Well, it means that you strongly need to protect this puppy and not allow anything to scare him.  What scares the puppy during the Fear Imprint Stage has every potential of staying with him for the rest of his life and could cause issues such as deep shyness, anti-social behavior or even biting later in life. So how do you handle this situation?  

This early stage of the puppy’s life is the most critical leaning time for the pup and everything that happens is being stored in his brain.  His brain will transmit this information into his life always.  If it’s the wrong information or coming from a scary experience, your pup could exhibit behavior in what we humans deem as undesirable and invalid fears towards children, other dogs or strangers.   These behaviors are difficult to break but caught early, a qualty, professional trainer will recognize the problems and most likely be able to greatly assist the pup.  Because most dog bites happen to children and most dog bites happen because the dog is fearful, this pup must be handled with great thought and consideration plus a calm leadership that will make the pup feel secure.

So you are taking this pup home during the the time that his brain is entering it’s peak rate of growth.  Then how will you introduce this puppy to your home and family?  How will you make sure the puppy feels confident and secure? And just how many weeks does the peak rate of growth last?  What exactly is it that will scare this pup?   Read on: New home: a scary place

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