The opportunity to impact a dog's behavior does not end when they reach the end of their primary socialization period at 12 to 14 weeks, but more care must be taken when exposing a dog to new social partners, environments and experiences as they will be more likely to respond with hesitation or fear to new things they have not learned to cope with previously.
A dog displaying concerning fear, anxiety or stress in typical situations will be unlikely to improve by exposing them to things that make them uncomfortable. Be proactive in finding a behavior professional so you can make a plan to intervene early.
Expect several fear periods through the first year, which typically last about a week. Some dogs just seem off, but others may suddenly be more sensitive to novelty or scared of things that they were comfortable with previously. During these times, a dog can be more sensitive to uncomfortable or bad experiences. Take it easy during these weeks, avoid new and potentially scary situations until the period has lifted. Reschedule plans if needed.
Through adolescence, expect periods of rapid growth and development. You may notice awkward and uncoordinated movement followed by a growth spurt. Their brain is developing quickly too, so an adolescent dog that seems to be stubborn or non-compliant may really not understand what you expect.
Adulthood and social maturity
Rapid growth will start to slow around 10 months. By 12 to 18 months, most dogs will start to settle and have more focus and impulse control. Between 2 and 4 years, dogs will go through social maturity. During this time, they may be less inclined to engage in social interactions with unfamiliar dogs or people and can become more selective. Most dogs will continue to benefit from contact with familiar social partners, but they may have less interest or even display fearful or aggressive behavior toward unfamiliar dogs and sometimes people. Their behavior will typically be stable when they finish social maturity.
What to Do
There's so much more to learn to understand your pup. Check out more great articles here!
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