CreamofBritish ASD Australian Labradoodles UK

Fourth Critical Period - 50 - 84 Days (7 TO 12 WEEKS)

The trainability of a puppy is ripe and operating to capacity as he puppy enters the eighth week of  life. Thus the puppy enters the fourth critical period of emotion, growth. What the puppy learns during this fourth critical period will be retained and become part of the dogs’ personality. If a puppy is left with its mother during the fourth critical period, its emotional development will be crippled. The puppy will remain dependent upon her but in her will find very little – if any – security.When a puppy remains with the litter beyond this time and without adequate human contact – its social adjustment to human society will be crippled and what it learns will be learned from the litter mates.



Because a pups trainability and learning facilities are operating at full capacity during the fourth critical period, it is better that a puppy do his learning from his new owner. And learn he will!! The fourth critical period marks a time when a new puppy will learn at a fast and furious pace. And much of what he learns will stay with him a long, long time. What the puppy learns during the fourth critical period will help to shape him into the kind of dog he will be forever more ! !

That last  paragraph is so important that every dog owner (and those contemplating getting a puppy) should read and reread it – and then read it again ! For the readers who acquired their dogs at six months or more, that paragraph may well explain some of the negative characteristics in the personality and behaviour of their dog.


During the first three critical periods, insignificant brainwaves from a puppy can be recorded on electroencephalographs. The fourth critical period, however, is quite different. The first actual – and highly significant – waves can be recorded.

It is during this fourth period that a bond will be established between dog and man that will have a lasting effect upon the puppy. During no other phase in its life will a canine have the ability to achieve a stronger bond than during the fourth critical period.

A puppy’s contact with people during this phase is the whole key to his emotional and social success within human society. In the tests conducted at Bar Harbour, puppies were isolated at various intervals during the five critical periods and it was determined that isolation from human society had its greatest effect on puppies during the fourth critical period. Without adequate human contact during the fourth period puppies became incapable of being trained and incapable of being companions to man.

It is during this time that a puppy should be integrated into human society. At this time a puppy should be taken for walks, meet people and be allowed to play with children and other animals (under supervision)


During the fourth period simple commands can – and should – be taught. There should be gentle discipline. Forceful discipline during this period could adversely tip the scales on which the puppy’s emotional development now rests. A puppy (during the fourth critical period) is learning to live in a human’s world. He is learning to trust and have confidence in human beings.


A puppy between the ages of 8 and 12 weeks does not deliberately get into mischief. A physical and forceful correction could result in complete confusion within the mind of the puppy. Faith and trust in  his new human friends could be quickly shattered. When mistrust of humans develops during the fourth critical period, that mistrust will remain a permanent part of a puppy’s make up.


Because many people acquire puppies for home security purposes, I must digress for just a moment to put across a very important point. The preceding paragraph may cause some to assume that the best way to raise a  puppy to be a watchdog is to isolate it from human society during its fourth critical period - so it will distrust humans. This is not the way to train a watchdog. It is one way to guarantee that he will never be protective of anything.


During the fourth critical period discipline should be confined to scolding. Scolding does not include shouting. Commands such as “sit”  “stay”  and “come” can be taught during the fourth critical period – but must be done so in a playful atmosphere.

Housebreaking should be instituted in a gentle manner, insuring that praise is used for correct behaviour rather than forceful correction for misbehaviour.


It is during the fourth critical period that puppies can develop what is generally referred to as “hand shyness” as a result of owners who feel that striking a puppy is the only way to discipline it. A puppy’s environment should give him a sense of security. Being smacked around with rolled newspaper or human hands certainly will not achieve this.


Mild restrictions should be imposed – in such as not allowing the puppy to chew furniture, shoes, etc and these mild restrictions could have the additional value of raising tolerance levels. Failure to discipline and failure to impose mild restrictions could have a serious effect on the puppy’s upbringing and have a detrimental effect on the dog’s compatibility within the family later in life.


In human society we have what is known as pre-school in our public schools. The purpose of pre-school is to prepare a child emotionally for the learning that will take place later. Playschool and pre-school classes are, in effect, a training ground to teach children how to learn. The fourth critical period is the puppy’s pre-school. If a puppy is taught how to learn during the fourth critical period his actual formal schooling (which can take place during or after the fifth critical period) will be more successful. A puppy given pre-school training during the fourth critical period will be able to learn more than a puppy that does not have pre-school experience.


Although commands such as “come”  “sit”  “stay”  “down” and “no” are invaluable when taught during the fourth critical period, perhaps the most important single response during that period is learning to fetch. Puppies who cannot – or will not –  learn to fetch are dropped from guide dog programs. Moreover, dogs being trained to perform narcotic detection duties must first be proficient at retrieving.


The significance of fetching cannot be over-emphasised. Explaining how such a game expands a puppy’s mind and what willingness to fetch reveals about a puppy would Require a book in itself. Learning to fetch in the fourth critical period can spell success or failure in your dog’s desire and ability to work for you. The term “work” refers to those duties which involve specialised training.


Failure to learn fetching does not mean that a dog will not be able to learn to respond to commands for everyday obedience but stop and think for a moment, if a dog is not smart enough to learn to fetch how then can he be expected to manage the more complex tasks of hunting, retrieving game, pulling a sled, working stock, guarding a house, or detecting bombs.



7-12 wks 2008 Bailey 021 9thoctober 010 Cochise babyvana elliecolindex