A:Puppyhood can be divided roughly in three stages: the first one that affects the life of a puppy at its new home is the maximum socialization period, between 7 and 12 weeks. During this most important “window” in the puppy’s mental development, it must be introduced to every possible aspect of normal everyday life. Anything left out during this period will be a cause of inhibition in the adult dog, and a puppy not fully socialized between 7 to 12 weeks of age will never reach its full potential as an adult.That's one of the reasons that puppies should go to their new homes not earlier than 8 weeks of age.
B:After the 12th week, the “window” shuts temporarily and the puppy enters a very crucial period that threatens its future well-being, as it is a make-or-break time. During this “maximum sensitivity” stage, every negative experience is permanently imprinted in the dog’s mind and phobias become deeply embedded. So we must be very careful during this stage not to endanger our puppy and to avoid all possibly threatening situations, allowing it to be exposed only to safe, friendly, pleasant and familiar things, persons and experiences. The period ends roughly at five months of age, but a lot depends on the individual rhythm of mental development so we must be good at “reading” our puppy for any sign of resentment or fear that may come to replace its previously outgoing and exuberant behaviour.
C:Usually between the 9th and 11th month of a dog’s life, the third (and final) stage of the youngster’s mental development becomes apparent. It corresponds to the humans’ puberty or “coming of age” and is much more noticeable in males. The young dog starts to demand his or her place in the world according to the personality of the individual: a submissive character will demonstrate moodiness during this stage, perhaps become a bit withdrawn, or less enthusiastic about food. An independent male will become more aggressive, and in all the between degrees we witness a certain will for rebellion. Relations with other dogs may become difficult.
Deal with it casually but not overlook how important this stage is for your relationship with your dog. Treat it like a teenager – give it space and time to work it out.
Don’t push but establish your leadership without doubt. Be like a parent-not a strict disciplinarian. Provide the safety every dog needs by belonging to a group with a confident leader. Dogs without this, feel lost, uncertain and irritable.
This stage is precious because it brings forth all the previous mistakes we may have made. Dogs are what we make them and now you are given a second chance to correct these mistakes. During this time you can put the finishing and finer touches to the relationship of trust and mutual understanding, respect and love you have built between you and your dog.
And it is true that we all have the dogs that we deserve.
Dogs hate weakness and hysteric behaviour in their environment. They expect guidance and protection. You have to be decisive, assertive, kind but firm. Love your dog but do not spoil it, truly connect and communicate with it, read its mind and speak its language. Dogs can’t become humans so we must learn how to think like them. When you truly know your dog nothing can threaten your relationship. Soul has a powerful language of its own and you are lucky. Never let your dog down and it never will either. You will always have the most wonderful friend in the world. Your precious friend, a guardian angel by your side and a most charming and interesting person to be with, a true source of pride and joy.
FCI Judge & Breeder of Great Danes