Many important foundations for the later behavior of a dog are laid in the imprinting phase. It is one of the development phases of the puppy and takes place between the fourth and eighth week of life. It is all the more important if you are toying with the idea of taking a puppy from a breeder, to only choose a pup that has been responsibly bred. Because what is stored or not stored in the brain during this time is preserved for life.
What happens in the brain during the imprinting phase
What happens in the brain during this time can be described as follows: New, so-called “time windows” keep opening in the brain. In these time windows, what has been experienced or not experienced is linked to one another by immediately connecting the nerve endings. The animal falls back on these connections throughout its life and also reacts accordingly later on. This knowledge about the course of the formative phase in the life of a puppy is an absolute prerequisite for a breeder who wants to sell dogs that are people-oriented and get along well with other dogs. The more links created, the better!
Imprinting on as many different stimuli as possible
During the imprinting phase, it is therefore important that the puppy gets to know other dogs or animals, different people, and various external stimuli such as noises in order to later go through life fearlessly and firmly. The puppy should now be given the opportunity to try out many things. Therefore, choose the breeder consciously. Ask how the puppies were raised and what charms they were allowed to experience. Take a look at where the litter is allowed to stay and see if the little ones react to you curiously and without fear. Because if you adopt a puppy that has passed an optimal imprinting phase, you are laying the foundation for a happy human-dog relationship!
Socialization is key: show your puppy the world
The socialization phase from the eighth to the twelfth week replaces the imprinting phase. What has been shaped here must now be experienced and tested in all its subtleties. In the dog family association, puppies have a lot of freedom to fool themselves until the end of the imprinting phase. At the beginning of the socialization phase, this changes abruptly. Now her education begins. This is also absolutely necessary because they later have to integrate themselves into the intact pack. The older dogs now set very clear limits, raised taboos, and enforced them with disciplinary measures. The puppy now spends this important time in its life with its human. Therefore, absolute consistency is now the top priority in education.
Encounters with people, animals, sensations
Socializing with people is one of the most important things your puppy needs to learn at this stage. Make sure that you make the stranger’s first contact with your puppy; after all, your puppy shouldn’t feel attacked or harassed. But if, for example, there is a nice game or an extensive cuddling session, your puppy will definitely be enthusiastic about it. Contact with their well-socialized conspecifics is of great importance. But the little one can also get to know as many new situations as possible in a controlled manner. It is important that he gets as many positive experiences as possible. Make the socialization phase a shared adventure!