While socialization essentially begins at birth, there are five distinct behavioral stages. Puppies should be handled as soon as appropriate after birth to help prevent shy, fearful, defensive, and self-mutilating behaviors in adulthood.
Curiosity Period (5-7 wks) Fearless and exploring everything by crawling, climbing, tasting, and touching everything. This is a great time to expose a puppy to grooming, bathing and trips outside the home.
Behavioral refinement (7-9 wks) This is a great time to teach puppies basic commands and behavioral boundaries. Learning is permanent at this age and training can be tailored to each pet.
Fear Imprinting (8-11 wks) The age of cautiousness. Loud noises, strangers, sudden movements, and disciplinary actions by both other animals and humans are taken to heart and will be remembered .
Environmental Awareness (9-12wks) Puppies are refining their behaviors at this point and learning the right behaviors for the right time and place. Motor skills are improving and human bonding can be very strong at this point. If a puppy is left with littermates during this time frame and has very little human interaction it will often have trouble with separation anxiety and/or hyper excitability.
Senior classification (13-16 wks) The age of independence. Pup will test dominance and leadership. It’s important to be consistent and gentle but firm during this stage and not let the dog dominate children or resist things like nail trims and leash training.