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Old 11-10-2007, 05:01 PM   #1
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Default Fear periods in puppies

I was reading up on what makes a dog shy, and there seems to be an opinion that puppies go through "fear periods" before they become adults. Supposedly what happens to them during these fear periods has a huge effect on how they behave after they have matured.
The first "fear period" is at 8-12 weeks.
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Avoid frightening the puppy during this period. Any traumatic, frightening or painful experience will have a more lasting effect on the puppy than if it occurred at any other time in its life.
http://www.dogclub.co.uk/advice/puppygrowth.php
Similar info here:
http://www.nwk9.com/fear_imprint.htm
http://www.doglistener.co.uk/puppies...periods1.shtml

But the second one, well it depends on where you look. Some say it starts at 4 months and some at 6 months.
http://dogs.suite101.com/article.cfm...y_dogs_are_shy
And this one says it is worse in male dogs.
http://www.creekside.tripod.com/HTML...your_puppy.pdf

The first fear period makes sense to me, but the second one? How does this fit with the thought of "teenage dogs" testing their boundaries?
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Old 11-10-2007, 10:08 PM   #2
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This is the article I agree with the most. My belief is if a puppy is well bred and properly raised during the first 8 weeks, the probability of serious impact during other brief fear periods is tremendously reduced.

If bred and raised properly the pup has been provided with the tools it needs in order to have a huge head start on dealing with future fearful periods.


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There is a practice of overstating and even abusing the behavioral concept of "fear period." This is demonstrated when we read on a breeder's web site such fabrications as, "First Fear Imprint Period (8-11 weeks) is what will determine the pup's development and character." Whether through ignorance or device, such a breeder disregards far more significant developmental influences of a breeding (such as the breeder's responsibility to select breedworthy, temperamentally sound dam and sire; provide quality prenatal care and stewardship; properly socialize the litter; appropriately match the pups with competent owners; provide continuing follow-up and education; etc.). We shouldn't be surprised to see deficient temperament -- and all manner of creative excuses for it -- as a result.
http://www.nwk9.com/fear_imprint.htm
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Old 11-10-2007, 10:24 PM   #3
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Good stuff, Skunkstripe! Thanks for the shares. Excellent reading for all.

The Unfortunate Popularity of Fear

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Puppy buyers are often misled that poor temperament is "just a fear period," or "all puppies do that," or "that's normal for this breeding" when in fact it is not "normal" for a pup to show protracted, chronic fearfulness of age-appropriate, common environmental stimuli. (As opposed to assaultive, injurious, or otherwise significantly traumatizing experiences, such as a rough mauling by another dog, which has a higher risk of imprinting a fearful association. Pain matters.)


The danger of the popularized "fear period" mythology is that it excuses fearfulness in even the most minimally stimulating environments. This snowballs into accepting as "normal" the continued expression of fearfulness for any duration, at any intensity, for any reason. Contrary to a common misperception, the "Fear Imprint" developmental phase is not fearfulness.

One determines the nature of a fear expression by observing the pup's first encounter with a novel environmental stimulus, and then objectively evaluating how the pup recovers from that first encounter. By evaluating the ability to recover ("rebound"), we can identify whether the pup's fear expression is based on its developmental status, life experience or naivete, naturally progressing learning curve, etc. -- or if the pup's fearfulness is a reflection of unsound temperament.

Much can be learned from the pup's first surprise encounter and fear reaction (if fear even occurs), and then, if by its own initiative (with minimal or better yet, no handler intervention) the pup investigates to physically and intellectually process the stimulus. The sound pup demonstrates the capacity and the will to identify that something encountered is novel, investigate to determine if it is benign and it need not be feared, accept it as a familiar (known) environmental element, and recognize future encounters as non-threatening and inconsequential that do not provoke a fearful response.
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Age and developmentally appropriate recovery is a cognitive facility that, regardless of a chronological "fear imprint" phase of canine development, one should expect and demand when making a determination of sound temperament. This is of critical importance when evaluating a potential candidate for the environmental challenges and psychological and physical rigors of service training and performance.
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Old 11-10-2007, 11:29 PM   #4
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Good stuff, Applesmom and Katz. I agree that the "fear period" is far to often used as an excuse. If it exists or not, I don't really know. What I do know is some breeders WILL use it when talking about their puppies (I've heard it). It's a sad excuse. Also, I've known people who won't use that so important time between 8 weeks and 12 weeks to socialize their puppies because they're afraid of the "fear period." I personally ignore it all together. I take my pup out and as always make sure he has a safe, fun time in the big, wide world.

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Much can be learned from the pup's first surprise encounter and fear reaction (if fear even occurs), and then, if by its own initiative (with minimal or better yet, no handler intervention) the pup investigates to physically and intellectually process the stimulus. The sound pup demonstrates the capacity and the will to identify that something encountered is novel, investigate to determine if it is benign and it need not be feared, accept it as a familiar (known) environmental element, and recognize future encounters as non-threatening and inconsequential that do not provoke a fearful response.
This was interesting to read Katz. I took Asher out for a walk around the neighborhood the other day. He saw a fire hydrant for the first time, and he balked at it. So, I walked over to it, patted it and said in a happy voice what a great fire hydrant it was. He immediately recovered, came over to the hyrdant, sniffed it and we walked on. Later in the walk we passed another hydrant. He gave it no notice other than the good smells he found on the ground nearby. If I had been really worried about a "fear stage," I could have over-reacted and indeed instilled a fear of fire hydrants in him right then and there! Instead, I laughed at him and helped him realize he was being silly. His later encounter with the same object was uneventful.
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Old 11-10-2007, 11:30 PM   #5
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I handle mine from birth to day they leave, they are fearless. Regardless if winter and cold they get out in snow, rain, they know water and learn to love it. I teach them height, lowering fast as at first they stiffen, but learn to relax. I teach small steps up n down, to follow, to come, collars, to walk up the Bridge and down other side. They are truly ready for good homes at 8 weeks old or older. I love to work with them. They think I am mom in the end when weaned. It would be terrible to fear at that age. Mine are such toughies. Not braggin but I work hard with them daily many times a day I am doing something.
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Old 11-10-2007, 11:35 PM   #6
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Agk9t, it seems we also agree on how to deal with fears. I'm a firm believer in socialization & not ever "over-protecting" a pup by keeping him confined to the homefront. Of course, making sure the pup is truly safe from hazards is a must but the more they encounter, the more confident they'll be as they age. Avoidance of any traumatic encounters is completely reasonable but avoidance of daily-life encounters will do more harm than good. Puppies that meet challenges head-on will grow to be dogs who meet challenges head-on.

Dealing with day-to-day fears (as you did with the hydrant) is an excellent approach to help a pup explore new surroundings. Two thumbs up. I don't give much attention to the "fear stage" beyond making sure the pup has a safe, positive experience in every day adventures.
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Old 11-10-2007, 11:41 PM   #7
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Agree completely, Katz. !
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Old 11-11-2007, 02:23 AM   #8
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I do believe there is such a thing as a fear period. My pup was totally fine with absolutely everything up until about 2 weeks ago (she just turned 7 months), and now she's terrified of people for no reason whatsoever. She's had/has tons of socialization and goes absolutely everywhere with me and always has. I have no idea why she has a sudden fear of people, but I'm working hard to correct that.

I do, however, agree with the majority of the points made in this thread. Dance is the only pup that I've ever had this experience with.

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Old 11-11-2007, 12:44 PM   #9
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So what 's your opinion on that second fear period? The one that goes from 6-14 months? That simply would not have occured to me, but apparently there are folks who have seen it. Is it for real?
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Old 11-15-2007, 01:44 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by skunkstripe View Post
So what 's your opinion on that second fear period? The one that goes from 6-14 months? That simply would not have occured to me, but apparently there are folks who have seen it. Is it for real?
I haven't experienced it personally or heard of it happening that I can recall.
But I wouldn't discount the possibility that it could happen with a dog that suffered traumatic changes in it's life during that period; such as suddenly finding itself abandoned in a shelter or loose and alone on the streets. But then, any dog couldl be traumatized by something like that.
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