Acquiring a puppy at the right age and providing it with the proper atmosphere during the critical periods of its life (when character and personality are being formed) is the only absolute way that the man/dog relationship, character traits, and trainability can be pre-determined and pre-ordained. Many people who acquire dogs at the age of six months, eight months, a year or even two years, are perplexed to find that their dogs just can't seem to demonstrate much of an emotional bond with their owner. Sometimes, they are shy which usually results in a characteristic known as fear biting, or perhaps the reverse is true; over-aggressiveness and bullyish tendencies. Scientific studies have shown that there are FIVE critical periods in a puppy's life. That is five phases of mental development during which adverse conditions could cripple a dog emotionally for life. Conversely, positive conditions during these five phases, will produce dogs of the highest calibre mentally and socially. So important were these scientific findings that the Guide Dog Foundation instituted these "positive conditions" for puppies being raised to become Guide Dogs for the blind. These dogs received the most rigorous and exacting training of any dogs and therefore must be perfectly adjusted. Dr J Paul Scott. Director of The Animal Behaviour Laboratory directed a project to determine just when these critical periods is shown in one particular test - extreme though it may have been. A puppy, twenty-one days old was removed from the litter and completely isolated. Although it was carefully fed and watered, its caretaker was careful not to play with or even speak to it. The only toys the experimental puppy had were a water bucket and food dish. By sixteen weeks of age the puppy had not had any contact with other dogs (except for the first 21 days of his life) and no human contact except for being fed and watered by a caretaker who barely acknowledged the pup's existence. At four months of age, the experimental puppy was once again placed with its litter mates. It did not recognise them, either as litter mates or dogs. The puppy's isolation during the critical periods of its life, its complete removal from the companionship of other dogs and humans had developed as character to such an extent that it would never adjust to the society of either. The puppy had passed the age of being capable of adjusting socially. Zero to 21 daysAs a result of many years of scientific research it has been determined that the first critical period covers the entire first two weeks of the puppy's life. During this period the puppy's mental capacity is nearly zero, and the puppy reacts only to its needs of warmth, food, sleep and its mother. Tests were conducted to determine whether a puppy was capable of learning anything at all during the first critical period, and it was determined that it was not. It was, however, determined that something nearly miraculous occurs on the 21st day, and that it occurs in all dogs, regardless of breed. : On the 21st day. ALL of the puppy's senses begin to function. The senses were present in the puppy during the first critical period, but were dormant. The 21st day of the puppy's life is like an automatic switch that turns on. It also turns on the second and possibly the most important critical period in the puppy's life. 21st to 28th Day During this period the puppy needs its mother more than any other time. The brain and nervous system begin to develop. Awareness begins to take place, and, in this mental stage, a new puppy finds the world that surrounds it rather frightening. Things that happen can be frightening experiences. A puppy removed from its mother during this second critical period will never attain the mental and emotional growth that it COULD and WOULD have, if it had been left alone. The social stress of being alive - and the awareness of it - has its greatest impact during this second critical period in the new puppy's life; that is, between the 3rd and 4th weeks. It may seem peculiar to some that no other times in a dog's life presents the same proneness period in the new puppy's life that the characteristic of to such emotional upsets and that such upsets could have such a traumatic and permanent effect on the puppy's social attitudes. It is during this second critical\period that nervousness can generate shyness and other negative qualities in a puppy. Once adverse conditions have developed negative qualities in this second critical period, no amount of re-conditioning or training, later in life will alter or significantly modify the resultant negative characteristics. 5th to 7th Weeks This must be considered as the third period in the puppy's life. The puppy will venture away from home, not very far, and do a little exploring. At the beginning of the 6th week, awareness of society will dawn. That is, the society of man and the society of the dog. The puppy's nervous system and trainability are developing and by the end of this critical period, will have developed to capacity. During this third critical period, your puppy will learn to respond to voices and will begin to recognise people. It is during this period that a 'social pecking order" will be established among the puppies in the litter. Some of the puppies will learn to fight for food, they will be the bullies. The litter mates that are cowed by the aggressive tendencies of the others will become shy. The scientific tests at Hamilton station have shown that it is an advantage for a puppy to remain with the litter long enough to acquire a little competitive spirit. but that too much is detrimental to the puppy's emotional growth. Puppies that remain with litter mates after the seventh week will develop bullyish or cowed tendencies which will remain with them into adulthood. The third critical period ends during the 7th week and the puppy is now considered emotionally developed and ready to learn. The training ability system within the dog is ripe and is operating to capacity. What it learns during the fourth critical period will be retained and become part of the personality and characteristic of the overall dog. If the puppy is left with the mother, its emotional development will be crippled. It will remain dependent upon her, but in her will find very little security since she will begin to totally ignore the pup. If the puppy remains with the litter beyond this point, and without adequate human contact, its social adjustment will be learned from litter mates. The optimum time for taking a puppy into a new household is at the end of the seventh week and the beginning of the puppy's fourth critical period.