Fear Periods in dogs: a survival guide for humans raising dogs

Fear periodsWhat are they?

For the first two months of life, puppies are supercharged exploring the world with their mother as their safety net. The calm presence of mum reduces the stress hormones produced, helping them to explore more.

Roughly between 8-11 weeks of age, their first “fear period” occurs. This period’s timing and intensity vary in different individuals and breeds. It likely correlates with the development of the “fear centre” of the brain – the amygdala.

This time is also within their “Socialisation period”, which spans 3-12 weeks of age. During this time, events that occur can have longer-lasting effects on the puppy than if the same event happened at a different time.

What does this look like?

In the first two months, they will likely approach anything or anyone new with much interest. In the fear period, they are more cautious; they may look and watch more to assess the situation before acting and taking their time before approaching. They may even decide to move away or not approach.  

Another one? Afraid so, the second fear period:

This occurs around 6-14 months of age, the timing and intensity varying with each individual.

Not as much study has been done on adolescent dog development as on younger puppies. However, this fear period is considered to occur due to their neural system balancing between independence and social dependence.

During this time (6-9 months), there is the highest risk of relinquishment to shelters, which is unlikely to be a coincidence.

What you may notice in your dog during the second fear period:

During this time:

How can we help?

Overarching concepts to follow:

More specific tips:

When to seek further help and assistance:

Kalmpets has solutions to suit each dog’s individual needs. Click here to get support for your dog’s behaviour problem today.

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