New Puppy Litter Blog - Stage 3: Socialisation Period

Truffle's litter have now moved into the socialisation period. This phase of development lasts from 3 to 12 weeks. The puppies are learning at an incredibly fast rate and will keep Truffle, Steve and Jill on their toes!

Physical development

The puppies are increasingly confident in their movements and will begin to walk rather than stagger. They will start to control their own body temperature and begin to eliminate away from their sleeping area. They will gradually learn to become less dependent on Truffle.

Truffle's milk production is starting to slow down, but the energy requirements of her puppies is increasing. This makes it the ideal time to start weaning the litter on to OSCAR Large Breed Growth, using our recommended feed rate. The puppies will not be able to break down hard puppy kibble at this age, so the food is ground down and warm water is added to make a gruel. The puppies won't be able to tolerate large amounts of food in one go, so they will be given several small meals throughout the day.

It is a good idea to feed puppies from individual dishes, so that they don't learn to compete over food or wolf their food down too fast... easier said than done when the food is so tasty though!

Introducing the puppies to different types of food dishes (stainless steel, plastic and porcelain) will help the puppies to learn that meal times can vary in look, sound and feel.

Behavioural development

The puppies will start to learn about social behaviour from Truffle and the other litter mates. Truffle will start to tell the puppies when she doesn't want them to feed from her or to bother her. She may do this with a growl, or get up and walk off. These important social lessons help the puppies to learn about self control and frustration.

As the puppies begin to play with one another, their social interaction starts to flourish. Playing helps to develop good social skills. Learning to communicate by reading other dog's behaviour helps them to interact confidently with other puppies and adult dogs. They also learn about bite inhibition through playing with their litter mates. Social play improves a puppy's physical development and provides a good form of exercise and stimulation.

You can see from this video that Laci is inviting her litter mate to play with a play bow and paw! This is lovely social behaviour from Laci... but I don't think her litter mate realises that she is inviting him for some playtime!

Over the coming weeks the litter will develop a keen interest in approaching moving objects and in discovering all things new! As the nervous system starts to mature at around 8 to 12 weeks, the puppies will start to develop fear behaviour. If fearful tendencies become a habit during this key socialisation period then the puppies may become permanently affected. Positive, gradual, exposure to new and exciting situations will help the puppies develop confidence and ease, reducing the risk of fearful behaviour returning in later life.

In this video, you can see Mia exploring the kitchen for the first time. At the start of the clip she is a little unsure of the OSCAR Ergonomic feeder, but as her confidence develops, she relaxes and moves around more easily.

Between the ages of 6 to 8 weeks, puppies accept new people as part of their family and this is why puppies are typically re-homed at around 8 weeks old. The new families for Truffle's litter have already been to meet the puppies. This will have been a great opportunity for the puppies to get to know them. This stage is also an ideal time for puppies to be introduced to children, so that they can experience the fun they will bring into their lives and learn to get used to the movement and noises they may make.

Discovering toys and playing with both family members and litter mates is really important at this stage. Play time with toys should be encouraged amongst the litter mates but also away from them. Introducing the puppies to time away from the litter will help to minimise the development of separation issues and help them adapt to life away from their litter mates when they are introduced to their new home.

Puppy Toys

If you'd like bespoke advice from our resident Dr Doolittle, Shelley; give us a call on 0800 195 8000 or email helpline@oscars.co.uk or contact us and we'll call you back.

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