fifth crytical stage, 12-16 weeks...

The fifth critical period is the 13th through to the 16th week of a puppy’s life. A highly significant thing will happen during the fifth critical period and puppy owners should be prepared for it. A puppy will make its first attempt to establish itself as the dominant being in the pack (family). It is during the fifth period that a puppy will learn whether he can physically strike out at his owner – and get away with it !

If a puppy is allowed to get away with it, he will lose the confidence and the respect for the owner that developed during the fourth critical period.

The tolerance level toward the owner will be narrowed. The puppy will learn that by rebelling he’ll get things his own way. It is during this fifth critical period that authority will be challenged. It is here that the challenge must be met head on by the pup’s owner.

Instructing people as to the best method for dealing with the problem is quite difficult because no two dogs are exactly alike.

Disciplinary measures for one are not necessarily suitable for another. In my own training school the question is often asked, “what shall I do if my dog bites me”?
My answer usually goes something like, “what would you do if your child hit you”? Heaps of love and understanding are not applicable here. A puppy must be shown swiftly and firmly that though he is loved, you the owner – are the dominant being.

Formal obedience training should begin not later than the age of six months for optimum ease in teaching. This is not to say that a dog who has attained the age of 10 years cannot or should not be trained. As long as a dog is healthy, there is no maximum age limit for training, it is always easier to train a dog that has not had too much time to develop bad habits.

Being aware of the five critical periods and providing the correct environment, instituting proper learning techniques will allow a puppy to develop emotionally and socially to full potential.

Each time you marvel at guide dog leading its blind owner through busy traffic, you can be assured that the five critical periods in that dog’s life were handled with great care and concern.

The puppy you acquire can grow up to be all the things he is capable of becoming. Pay close attention to the critical periods in his life. Those are the periods which shape and mould his character and personality. He is in your hands. What he is to become he will become during those five critical periods.

Most formal obedience classes conducted throughout the country will not accept a puppy for obedience training unless it has attained the age of six months or more. It is unfortunate, however that by the time some dogs reach six months of age, they have already become problem dogs.

Obedience training may or may not help, depending upon the severity of the problem. In too many cases, it does not. This is simply because obedience training does not teach a dog to refrain from turning over trash cans, chasing cars, barking excessively, or tearing up the living room furniture, these bad habits are learned during the five critical periods.