The Importance of Imprinting


A very interesting article on ‘Imprinting’ was shared with us today… I have posted an excerpt from the article but please feel free to contact us for a copy of the complete article which which covers the period from birth to 14 mths.

There are two if not three major Imprinting periods within this time where, essentially, whatever happens to this puppy will stay with him/her for life!

These are the periods where aggression (fear/self protection), fear
of various things (sometimes the world!) etc are set up. These incidents will affect each Dog differently dependent on their genetic makeup but also dependent on the combination of ‘incidents’ and exposure. A puppy with strong nerves might be able to manage ok but if exposed to numerous incidents etc it could have a completely different outcome.

It shows how important it is that are Dogs are handled appropriately especially in their first twelve months and also explains why there are so many behavioural issues with our Dogs as most of us aren’t aware of this and most Breeders (not all but most) are either not aware or do not make the time for this,


The notion of CRITICAL STAGES OF CANINE DEVELOPMENT has been well covered in both scientific and popular literature and is based primarily on the work of John Scott and J. L. Fuller in the forties, fifties, and sixties.

Clarence Pfaffenberger’s book NEW KNOWLEDGE OF DOG BEHAVIOUR introduced these stages of development to breeders, trainers, and pet owners over 20 years ago.

Jack and Wendy Vollhard and Richard Wolters further popularised this field by introducing puppy aptitude testing based, in part, on Scott and Fuller’s findings.

Drs Michael Fox and Ian Dunbar, initially studying canine development and behaviour in clinical settings, have written copiously for the lay press regarding puppy socialisation.

Unfortunately, many other writers unfamiliar with the original research have led new puppy owners into believing that a puppy purchased at an age older than exactly 7 weeks will bond less well and be less trainable than a puppy purchased at exactly 49 days of life.

This “urban myth” is most vexing to breeders as the 49th day of life may be the earliest time a puppy may leave its litter mates, but may not be the best time.

During our puppy training, Perth K9 Coach will focus on these imprinting periods.

So here to debunk some of these myths is a synopsis of the critical periods of puppy development from a reasonable breeder’s point of view:



• Puppies are “foetuses out of the womb.” They cannot see, hear, regulate their own body temperatures, or eliminate without stimulation and are totally dependent upon their dam or a surrogate mother.
• No emotional development, social attachment, or learning takes place during this period. Puppies’ brain waves remain constant whether sleeping or awake. Puppies do, however, exhibit reflex reactions to hunger, cold and touch. They pile for warmth or spread out if too hot, but cannot regulate their own temperature by shivering or panting.
• During this neonatal period puppies will crawl backward and forward and will swing their heads from side to side, often repetitively while mewing or trilling. These movements appear to be involuntary and prepare pups muscles, nervous system, and inner ear for further development.

Breeder Do’s:
• Keep bitch happy, healthy, and well-fed. Her physical and emotional well-being will supply everything the puppies need during this stage.
• Handle puppies very gently with very slow, massaging movements. Very light stimulation of the nervous system (called “pre-stressing”) may be beneficial when applied during the second week of life. This could involve rotating pups gently in your hands, applying light pressure to the ear leather, and holding each pup gently on its back for a few seconds each day.
• Pups should, of course, be weighed daily to monitor growth and this would be a good time to handle each pup.
THIS IS NOT SOCIALISATION OR TRAINING. Pre-stressing does, however, assist in developing brain cells.

Breeder Don’ts:
Don’t allow visitors (human or canine) during this period.
Avoid anything that will stress the bitch (house guests, parties, home repairs, etc.) Also try not to move puppies or remove mother from the litter at this time. If the pups or dam need to see a veterinarian, try to arrange for a home visit.
Despite the common practice, this is not a good age to take a litter to a Dog show in your RV.


• Eyes and ears open and pups slowly begin responding to light, movement, and sound.
• Puppies become more mobile as they gain awareness of their surroundings, their mother, litter mates, and objects.
• Pups may also begin to alert to human presence during this period. This is still a reaction to stimuli rather than a social bond or emotional attachment.
• Pups will attempt to get up on their feet, but continue crawling backward and forward. They may begin trying to get out of whelping box toward end of his period.

Breeder Do’s:
• Introduce toys as obstacles to climb over or bump into. This helps pups develop spatial awareness.
• Some pups may begin briefly interacting with toys near the end of the third week.
• Continue handling pups daily using slow, massaging movements.
• Pups are growing fast and need frequent nail trimming.
• Introduce brushing with soft brush.
Again, this is not training but stimulation.

Breeder Don’ts:
• Avoid startling pup with loud noises or sudden movements while hearing and eyesight are developing. If you must move or change puppies’ environment, this is the time to do so.
• Do not remove from dam.

For the rest of the article please email us and we can forward on to you…