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Border Collie Puppy Development

In order to understand puppy development behaviour, it is critical to understand each stage of a puppy goes through as it matures. Let’s take a look at the different stages.

 

2 Weeks to 1 Month

Between two weeks and one month old, puppies undergo significant development. Their eyes fully open, and they start responding to light and movement. Hearing improves as their ear canals open, allowing them to become more aware of their surroundings. Motor skills develop rapidly; they begin to stand, walk, and explore. Teeth start to emerge, and they transition from solely nursing to trying soft, solid foods. Social behaviours emerge as puppies interact with their littermates, learning important skills like bite inhibition and social hierarchy. By the end of this period, puppies are more active, curious, and increasingly independent from their mother. They will gain a lot of weight in these first few weeks, anything from 25 to 50 grams daily.

6 Weeks

From one to two months old, puppies continue their rapid development. Their senses of sight and hearing are fully functional, and they become more interactive and playful. Coordination and strength improve as they run, jump, and engage in more complex play. This period is critical for socialization; they learn important social cues and boundaries from littermates and human interactions. Puppies are weaned off their mother’s milk and transition to solid food. They begin house-training and learn basic commands.

This stage is vital for establishing positive behaviours and temperaments. By the end of two months, puppies are more independent and ready for new experiences. It’s an excellent idea to let the pups get used to different sounds and smells at this early age, but the Border Collies should still be with their doggy family. And yes, even if they are weaned. Their doggy family will teach doggy social skills. Puppies will get their veterinary check, vaccinations & microchips.

puppy development

2 Months

At two months old, puppies are vibrant and energetic. Their senses are fully developed, making them highly responsive to their environment. They are curious explorers, eager to interact with people, animals, and new surroundings. This period is crucial for socialization and learning; puppies should be exposed to various stimuli to build confidence and adaptability. They are fully weaned and eat solid food. Basic training, such as housebreaking and simple commands like “sit” and “stay,” should be introduced. Puppies at this age exhibit distinct personality traits and are eager to form bonds with their human family, setting the foundation for future behaviour.

Awareness or identification period (21-28 days)

During this stage, the puppy’s eyes and ears have recently opened and he becoming aware of the world around him.  During this time, his environment should remain stable because he is inundated with stimuli.

Curiosity period (5-7 weeks)

During this stage, puppies become very curious. The type of experiences a puppy has will greatly influence how they will react to humans as an adult.

Behaviour Refinement Period (7-9 weeks)

By seven weeks, puppies have fully functioning brains, as shown by EEG studies. Anything they learn during this time is permanent.

Fear Imprint Period (8-10 weeks)

Puppies are very susceptible to the long-lasting effects of fearful stimuli at this stage. If a puppy perceives an event as traumatic, it may generalize it, affecting it for the rest of its life. Great care should be taken to avoid fearful reactions during this stage.

Environment Awareness Period (9-12 weeks)

This period is crucial for exposing puppies to different environments..

Puppy Development Socialization Period (3-12 weeks)

The socialization period is divided into two phases: primary socialization (canine socialization) and secondary socialization (human socialization). This is when the puppy is forming social relationships. Although socialization is ongoing throughout a dog’s life, this period is critical for initiating social relationships effectively.

The Challenges of Being a Companion

Being a companion is the hardest job we ask a dog to do, given our high expectations. We want dogs to get along with everyone and everything, accompany us everywhere, be happy alone when necessary, and accept loud noises and strangers. Unfortunately, one major cause of death in dogs under two years old is euthanasia due to behavior problems, often stemming from fear. Proper management of the first sixteen weeks of a dog’s life can prevent many of these issues.

Puppy Development Juvenile Period (3 to 6 months)

Between three to six months, puppies undergo rapid growth and development. Their baby teeth are replaced by adult teeth, leading to increased chewing. Motor skills become more refined, making them more agile and coordinated.

This period is crucial for socialization. Puppies should be exposed to various environments, people, and other animals to build confidence and prevent behavioral issues. Consistent training should focus on obedience, housebreaking, and basic commands. During this time, puppies start to understand and follow routines, showing increased independence but also testing boundaries.

Regular veterinary check-ups are important to monitor growth and address any health concerns. This stage sets the foundation for a well-adjusted adult dog.

Special Considerations for Border Collies

Border Collies, in particular, do not like being left alone and can easily develop separation anxiety. It’s recommended to crate train this breed from a very early age. Bringing home a new Border Collie puppy is an ideal time to start crate training. Setting up a comfy crate as their safe, secluded spot will help them adjust to their new home and aid in crate training.

Crate training can be challenging and may involve some whining and crying. Ensure your puppy has plenty of food and water, is in a protected spot, and is comfortable in their crate. Despite the temptation to give in to their adorable cries, owners must resist. Given that Border Collies are a high-energy breed, even as adults, crate training is very important to help them get used to it.

Flight Instinct Period - 4 to 8 Months

This period can last for a few days or several weeks.  It’s a time when a puppy will “test its wings” and wander further away than before.  It’s like a teenager going through puberty as the puppy is changing physiologically.

Second Fear Impact Period (6 to 14 Months)

This period is also called the fear of new situations period.  A well socialized puppy who has been meeting people in an outgoing manner may start to show apprehension or fear toward people and things during this period.  This stage is believed to be related to a cognitive recognition of fear which means they interpret it on an intellectual level in addition to an emotional one.

Sexual Maturity Period (6 to 16 months)

From six to sixteen months, puppies enter adolescence, undergoing significant physical and behavioral changes. They reach sexual maturity, which can lead to marking and other hormonal behaviors. Growth continues but at a slower pace. Socialization remains crucial to prevent fear or aggression issues. Regular exercise is essential to manage their high energy levels.

This stage can be challenging as puppies may display stubbornness or rebellious behavior. Patience and consistent positive reinforcement help shape a well-mannered adult dog. Female Border Collies may start their estrous cycle as early as six months, while males typically reach sexual maturity around seven months.

Transition to Adulthood Period (16 to 36 months)

From sixteen to thirty-six months, puppies transition into adulthood. Physical growth completes, and mental maturity develops. Dogs become more settled and predictable in their behavior. Training should focus on reinforcing established behaviors and correcting any remaining issues. Social skills should be well-developed, with regular interactions to maintain confidence and sociability.

Exercise remains crucial to manage energy levels and maintain health. By this stage, dogs should have a stable routine, including consistent feeding, exercise, and veterinary care. This period solidifies the dog’s personality and behavior patterns, shaping them into well-adjusted and reliable adult companions.

Female Border Collies are considered adults by 24 months, while males reach adulthood by 36 months.

Puberty/Young Adulthood Period (18 to 24 months)

This period can be marked by a surge in aggression as dogs try to achieve a higher pack status. Negative behaviors that had previously been eliminated may reappear. This is often when the negative behaviors of many improperly socialized dogs emerge.

Maturity Period (1-4 years)

Regular socialization should continue throughout the life of the dog.

Adolescence: The Peak of Energy

The adolescent stage in Border Collies, starting around 6 months and extending until approximately 2 years of age, is often referred to as the “teenage” phase. During this period, you may notice increased energy levels, independence, and a stronger inclination to test boundaries. Consistent training and mental stimulation are crucial to channel their energy constructively and prevent destructive behaviors.

Young Adulthood: Maturing Mentally and Physically

Around 2-3 years of age, Border Collies enter young adulthood. This stage marks a turning point in their development, as they begin to mature mentally and physically. While they may still exhibit bursts of energy, you will likely observe a gradual decrease in their overall energy levels. Proper training, exercise, and mental enrichment will help your Border Collie transition into a calmer and more well-rounded adult dog.

Adulthood: Finding Balance and Mellowing Down

By 3-5 years of age, Border Collies typically settle into their adult temperament and energy levels. While individual variations exist, most Border Collies start to balance their innate drive with a more composed demeanor. They become better equipped to focus on tasks, have improved impulse control, and exhibit a calmer disposition. However, it’s important to remember that Border Collies will always need physical exercise and mental stimulation throughout their lives.

Finally

Exposing your puppy to a variety of experiences early in their life will help them become confident and well-adjusted. Older dogs who haven’t had adequate exposure to different noises and situations may be more frightened and insecure.

As the strong pack leader, it’s necessary to show your puppy that you are brave and unafraid of new things. Never praise your puppy for being frightened. Socialization is a complex process where a puppy uses the knowledge and skills they gain to take their place in society and form social and emotional bonds.

Puppies must learn two concurrent socialization processes: becoming functional members of both dog and human society, which can be very different from each other. While socialization involves exposing the puppy to various animals, people, and experiences, we also aim to raise dogs with the emotional intelligence to connect deeply and trustingly with their families. Emotional intelligence can be taught, and we are dedicated to doing that.

We aim to develop the following 7 key factors:

  • communication
  • emotional stability (recover from fear & manage stress)
  • habituation (familiarity with a maximum number of things)
  • enrichment (novelty & challenges are opportunities for reward not to be feared or avoided)
  • health (allow puppy to develop in a physically & neurologically sound way)
  • skills (learned behaviours that allow puppy to function in human society)
  • love (desire to seek out company of both dogs & humans as emotionally positive experiences).
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