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Puppy Critical Periods–

Socialization and Development


   Your puppy will pass through many stages as he grows and develops. Many puppy owners are shocked, surprised or downright freaked out about the way that their cute little puppy is behaving. Just check what stage of development the little guy (or gal) is in… explains a lot (like he isn’t crazy). Behaviors can be accounted for with these stages, but a lot of these behaviors are also not acceptable and you must train and lead the way.

   The mother of your puppy will start the process by building the foundation. This responsibility will then be turned over to you. It can not be expressed enough times how important is for you to train and lead your puppy so that he will be a happy well adjusted member of your family for life.

Puppy Toddlers Period (3-8 Weeks)


“Mom Teaches Dog Manners”

   During the Toddler period, the doodle puppies emerge on their own from the

litter. They venture into the surrounding environment. These lessons learned in the

toddler stage are CRITICAL. Puppies removed too early tend to be nervous, tend to bark inappropately, tend to bite simply because these lessons a mother and littermates usually provides were missed. Training problems and long-term behavior problems can often be attributed to a puppy removed from the litter much too soon.

  Beginning at 3 weeks of age, what is going on: The first lessons learned are dog specific

  behavioral patterns

  • They will learn various postures meanings and their affects to their mother and littermates.

  • They will learn how to bite and what it is like to be bitten.

  • They will learn what barking and other vocalizations mean and their uses.

  • They will learn how to establish social relationships with other dogs.

   Beginning at 5 weeks of age, what is going on: Vocalization and tempered activities (dog

   manners) usually are learned at approximately 5 weeks.

  • They will learn how to be submissive to the leader of the pack.

  • They will learn and refine additional postures, vocalizations and acceptable dog interaction behaviors.

   What the Puppy’s mother will do: The mother will growl, snarl and snap to communicate. With a few very clear signals and repetitions, the young puppy will learn quickly. At that point a mothers glare or low growl is all that is needed to keep a young pup in line. Littermates also learn clear signals of communication to each other.


Socialization Period (7-12 Weeks)

and First Fear Imprint Period (8-11 Weeks)


“Lasting Impact, Rapid Learning”

   Dogs that are denied socialization during this critical socialization period often

become unpredictable because they are fearful or aggressive. It is during this time,

that your dog needs to have positive experiences. They need to be introduced to new

things and begin the groundwork to become a happy, well-adjusted dog.

Beginning at 7 weeks of age, what is going on:

  • Short attention spans.

  • Things learned are permanent and will be resistant to change.

  • Puppy will be eager to learn.

  • What he does and learns now, he will do as an adult.

  • Puppy’s temperament and personality will become more apparent.

  • Puppy will be transitioning his education from his mother to his human environment.

Beginning at 8 weeks and ending at about 11 weeks of age, what is going on:

  • Any traumatic, painful or frightening experiences can have a lasting impact.

What You Can Do:

  • Gradually introduce your puppy to new things, environments and people.

  • Make experiences positive (provide treats or toys)

  • Don’t push your puppy into fearful situations – take things slowly and allow him to adjust and get use to the situation.

  • Do not let others push your puppy or be forceful with them.

  • Provide a secure comforting demeanor.

  • Teach the puppy you are there to protect and lead.


Seniority Classification Period (12-16 Weeks)  


“You're Not The Boss of Me!”

   The puppy has been in the home now for a few weeks. He has been watching

you and the family very closely. He is picking up on human behaviors and

reactions. He is learning the pecking order of the pack. As he observes and learns,

he will then attempt to figure out where exactly he stands in the pack order, and

to also see if moving up in the pack will work. After all, he knows who the “weak

links” are and will start at the bottom and try to move right up the pack. How could such a cute little pup be such a pistol?

What Is Going On:

  • Puppy will begin to question authority.

  • Puppy will attempt to move himself up in the pack order.

  • Puppy will try to dominate.

  • Puppy will grab leashes

  • Puppy will try to determine what activities are going to be done and when.

  • Puppy may growl.

  • Puppy may put his mouth on you.

  • Puppy can often become over excited.

What You Can Do:

  • Learn how your actions and body language communicate to your dog.
    (Suggested reading: "The Dog Listener" – Author Jan Fennell)

  • Do not play aggressive games during this phase. (Tug or wrestling)

  • If puppy becomes over excited, growls or mouths you, you stop all activity.

  • Be very aware of how the puppy interacts with children – do not leave children unattended with the puppy.

  • Enroll in a puppy kindergarten class to redirect some of the energy.

  • Evaluate the whole family’s methods of interactions and corrections
    and make sure that all are consistent and clear. (Unified front concept here)

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Flight Instinct Period (4-8 Months)  

“Fly Like an Eagle, Into the Wind”

Your cute little puppy has been following you around for weeks now.

He has been aware of where you are and would stay pretty close.

During this period that same cute little puppy will decide that he is

ready to go solo and take off running quicker than lightening.

During this time, teaching the puppy that he must stay close by or

come when called is critical. The failure to do this will result in a

dog that will not be reliable to come or to stay close by as an adult

and very well could lead the dog into a life or death situation.

What Is Going On:

  • The puppy will become more independent.

  • A puppy that previously would never go very far, will venture off.

  • The Puppy will ignore commands to stay close or come.

  • How you handle refusal to come or stay will affect future reliability off leash.

  • Puppy will be clever in attempts to run around loose.

What You Can Do:

  • Leash on 100% of the time when they are not in a confined area.

  • Never allow dog loose in an unconfined area. (Yes this is redundant to the above, so it must be pretty important for us to say it twice.)

  • Being off leash outside of a confined area is reserved for those who have been well trained.

  • Enroll in training class that utilizes positive training techniques.

  • Reinforce and continue to train your puppy “come”.

  • Make coming a very positive experience.

  • Oh… and never allow your puppy to be off leash in an unconfined area.


Adolescence Period (7-10 Months)  

“Welcome to the Teenage Years – Enjoy the Ride”

This is one of the most difficult times for pet owners. They are so

surprised when their puppy turns into “devil dog” or “cujo”. This often

is a time when many families start to worry that maybe they made a

bad decision in getting a dog. Remember: you get what you put into it.

You take the time right now to teach good habits, you will have the

dog you always dreamed of for many years. This work will payoff.

What Is Going On:

  • The puppy will become a free and independent thinker.

  • The puppy will continue to review the pack order.

  • The puppy will be very energetic.

  • The puppy will be exuberant and enthusiastic.

  • They turn into clowns with teeth.

  • They will delight in learning new and fun things.

What You Can Do:

  • Appreciate the humor of it all.

  • Have you read the book The Dog Listener yet? It will help.

  • Understand that despite the behaviors it is your time to continue to train and reinforce the things you do want him to do.

  • Reaffirm the family pack order.

  • Be realistic about expectations (still very much a puppy in a big boy body)

  • Channel all that energy into positive learning experiences.

  • Continue with training classes; explore options for additional
    training opportunities.


Second Fear Imprint Period (6-14 Months)  

“Yikes! What's Up With That”

You have a puppy that is full of beans, he runs around like a clown in search

of his next show. But then, BAM, he refuses to walk down some stairs, he is

shaking in the car, or he jumps at the sound of the neighbor’s music.

Surprise! This is normal, but you must help your dog figure out

how to deal with his fears or concerns. The skills of learning how

to “shake it off and keep going” will be valuable to him for the rest

of his life. It will also reduce the chances that the things he fears will

not be permanently imprinted for life.

What Is Going On:

  • The puppy that was so confident will suddenly become reluctant to
    new things.

  • This period can be subtle.

  • This period can come and go several times over this entire period.

  • It may appear to be unprovoked or unrelated to any specific occurrence.

  • Puppy can become frustrating to owners.

  • You may notice this behavior more in males.

What You Can Do:

  • Avoid extremes in your response (no anger or forcing or over comforting)

  • Be patient and understanding.

  • We aware of surrounding and potential triggers.

  • Work on desensitizing him with gradual introductions with rewards.

  • Avoid too much reassurance or coddling (which is a reward for this behavior)

  • Don’t over react or correct the fearfulness – just make light of it and encourage him to deal with his fear (work through the fear).

  • Praise with grand rewards for his attempts.

  • Your dog will take his clues from you, if you act frightened
    or concerned he will too.

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Mature Adulthood Development 

Period (1-3 Years)  

“I Shall Protect Thy Kingdom!”

So the puppy is no longer an itty-bitty baby, he is pretty much

fully-grown in height. He will begin to fill out a bit and develop

more muscle tone. But, mentally, the dog is still working out

some last details of his life and what it means to him. He IS a

member of a pack and now begins to find that his turf is

worthy of monitoring and protecting. Sort of sounds nice to

have your dog be protective, but don’t fall for it. You do not

want you dog to take over these responsibilities because in

no time you too will be under the rule of the King Dog. This

can lead to aggressive behaviors, protective to the point of creating fear or actually harming someone or another animal as he protects. This is bad news, and often a reason a dog is taken out of the home or destroyed. So, don’t allow your dog to be the King of the Castle, assign him the role of court jester – he will be happier and so will your family.

What Is Going On:

  • The dog may become more turf protective.

  • Strangers may be greeted with barking.

  • Barking at noises, birds, cars, butterflies, pretty much everything he believes worthy of attention.

  • Playing with other dogs may escalate to fighting.

  • Same sex confrontations of other dogs can occur.

  • Once again, checking the pack order to see if he can move up.

What You Can Do:

  • Reinforce how to greet strangers into your home.

  • Teach your dog to ignore dogs he cannot be nice to.

  • Practice or reinforce dog manners (utilizing no threatening dogs)

  • Learn to read your dog and other dogs. (Circling, walking on toes, stiff tail wags, tense facial expressions – are the signs of aggressive behaviors)

  • Rally your family to review that the pack order is clear and every one is consistent with training and corrections.

  • Reward him for good behaviors.

  • Give that dog another job, therapy work, obedience classes, agility.*


*Information courtesy of IDOG.BIZ

3 yrs.png
Bringing Baby Home...

PICK UP DAY:  Be sure to pack the crate or car harness system to bring your pup home. PLEASE DO NOT HAVE PUP IN YOUR LAP! IT IS UNSAFE.  Have paper towels and hand wipes and a plastic bag to put them in when soiled. Most times, the pup does very well but accidents happen.  It is suggested you also pack a frozen Kong lightly filled with pet food mixed with a bit of cream cheese - it is a good distraction for the pup.  A bowl and water bottle would be a good idea as well. Use common sense to add anything that would be necessary for a long trip.  You are provided with a leash, collar/harness.

PUPPY SCHEDULE (so important for potty/training success) 

Typical Daily Routine 

(adapted from Berkshire Hills Labradoodles)


6 - 6:30 Wake up / potty

6 - 7 Breakfast / potty

7 - 9 Potty / play / train / potty

9 - 12 Nap

12 - 1 Potty / lunch / potty

1 - 2 Play / train / potty

2 - 5 Nap

5 - 6 Potty / play / train

6 - 8 Dinner / potty / play / train / potty

8 - 10 Potty / quiet time / snuggling

10 - 11 Potty / bedtime

PLEASE NOTE: Regarding how long to walk your pup - a general rule is 5 minutes of walking on a leash for each month of age. Playing outdoors for any length of time is great as the pup will rest when it feels the need. The five minute rule is when on a leash. Use common sense as your pup is a baby and does not have the stamina of an adult dog. Pushing your pup to go on hikes/long walks will cause joint damage! Use a dog stroller if you want to go on a long walk with your young pup.  :+)


Early Spay & Neuter, Vasectomies, Ovary Sparing Spay, Contracts... Many choices - what to do?


This is a topic that I have struggled with morally for many years.  I have read numerous articles, talked extensively with my vets and have had spirited conversations with other Labradoodle Breeders on forums.  In a perfect world, we would leave all dogs and cats 'natural' .  Of course, shelters would be bursting at the seams; and greedy, uneducated individuals who own puppy mills that sell their 'wares' over media would breed with no thought to the health of the dam, stud or puppies.  So, I had to make a tough but educated decision.


As with all things, it takes time for research to make discoveries, utilize statistics and come to a conclusion.  I researched and tried several types of sterilization including sparing the ovaries but removing the uterus, keeping the uterus but removing the ovaries, vasectomies versus removal of the testicles.  These surgeries all work well but all have pros and cons. 


ALL of the studies were done on large breeds, so there are no studies whatsoever on the smaller breeds so the research is skewed.  Issues on any of the procedures include longer bones, an increase in some Cancers and joint fragility.  Large breeds are plagued with all these issues irregardless but keeping them intact until two years does help minimize expression because the hormones are beneficial for the maturation of their bones and musculature.  Small breeds have a much lower incidence due to less stress on their joints from the excessive weight.  However, ALL breeds are plagued with the possibility of Cancer, just like humans.  


Due to a change in my vet's policies, ADNE has had to make a different choice than what I have done in the past.  I have decided to engage a company called SpaySecure that will be the liaison for my Sterilization Contracts with each buyer.  They will contact you with reminders and requests for a copy of this procedure being done in the timeframe specified in our pet purchase contract.  This is an important change in ADNE's policy!


Children leave a door open, a phone rings, a wayward male jumps a fence - life is a bowl of accidents waiting to happen.  It is my responsibility to be sure my contracts are enforced; and the best method to accomplish this is to use a company who has an excellent reputation in this field.


New Puppy Shopping List


You should consider the following items when preparing for your new Labradoodle puppy. You may not need everything listed before your puppy arrives, but this list is intended to help you consider all your puppy's basic needs.



  • Paper towels (a lot of paper towels :)

  • Old Towels for 30" Crate.

  • Once puppy is reliably crate trained, a "real" crate bed can be used.

  • Old Blanket or Towel(s) to cover wire Crate to make pup feel like it is a 'den'

  • Cotton balls for cleaning ears or the cosmetic flat cotton ovals (used for make up removal).

  • Acrylic (Fake) Nail file, cardboard with sandpaper type, for smoothing nails

  • Hydrogen Peroxide (to induce vomiting, if necessary)

  • 100% Pure canned Pumpkin (from the baking isle of your grocery store) Pumpkin is a good source of fiber. When puppy has diarrhea or constipation, a tablespoon or two with every meal for several days should help alleviate symptoms. Freeze excess in ice cube tray.

  • Baby Gate(s) Try baby supply stores - generally more choices and cheaper than pet stores (Beware that horizontal bars provide a foot-hold for climbing puppies. Also consider spacing between bars, as some times it is large enough for little puppies to get caught)



  • Nature's Miracle (gallon size) or similar stain/odor neutralizer

  • Bitter Apple (bitter taste deters dogs from biting, licking, and chewing) If that does not work, try HOT Tobasco Sauce.

  • Pooper Scooper & bags

  • Food and water bowls (stainless steel or ceramic - careful about bowls/toys from China!)

  • Storage bin for dry food

  • Adjustable Nylon collar w/plastic clasp and leash is provided.

  • Most clients like a 'fancier' set for when their pup gets older. 

  • One of the best harnesses to use on your dog is an Easy Walk Harness.  This company has them for the least expensive price and they make such a difference when walking your dog by their unique construction. When your dog pulls, it redirects the dog to turn and look at you for instruction and control.  Highly, highly recommended!

  • I.D. Tag – Recommend boomerang for flat collar tags for adjustable collars. They also sell collars with tags included for smaller sized dogs.

  • 6 foot (1.8 m) leash

  • 15 foot (4.6 m) or longer (up to 50 foot (15 m)) training leash(es)

  • Plastic Crate for crate training. (Puppies get teeth and tags caught in wire crates)

  • Check with for great prices!

  • Travel Crate for car until puppy is big enough to wear a car harness (I recommend Champion System Harnesses.) I also think having a bottle of Rescue Remedy or other type of 'anxiety' help in herbal form is a good thing for traveling. I have found that Ginger crystals are great for settling stomachs prior to travel.



A list has been provided on the AnnaBlog Index.

Puppy Treats (e.g. Zukes and Old Mother Hubbard make a good one).


Soft treats work best for training. Pieces of cheese, hotdogs, or homemade Liver Training Treats. (Zuke's Z Filets are great!)



There is a vitamin, mineral, herbal supplement that I highly recommend called Canine Wellness Blend from Substance Herbs. The pups are fed this every day and my adult dogs eat it daily as well. It is an excellent immune system booster, provides healthy digestion, repels insects and much more.



  • Medium or Large Kong Toy

  • Stuffed Dog Toys w/ squeakers, SNUGGLE PUPPY! Look for one online or on Amazon.  It is a soft toy with a battery inside that you turn on for the sound of a heartbeat.  Very soothing for your new puppy.

  • Balls (squeaky rubber balls)

  • Rope toys (e.g. Booda bones)

  • Bully Sticks for chewing and nutrition.

I prefer no rawhide type chews - many dogs get sick from them or diarrhea.



  • Brushes - I like the Chris Christensen brushes - available on Amazon. I have the T-16mm one and love it. Also, the type of brush that has the individual 'pins' that spin on their axis called The Untangler Mini Rake. The pins spin individually - both brushes are great for tangles in long hair. The Chris brush is better for coats than most pin brushes as it does not break off hair. 

  • Medium tooth Comb

  • Blunt tipped curved blade scissors

  • Toothbrush Kit (not necessary if you feed the raw diet - raw bones do wonders!)

  • Puppy Shampoo

  • Puppy Conditioner / Grooming Spray

  • Ear Wash solution

  • Plier-style nail clippers w/nail guard

  • Blood Stop Powder



Bell to hang by back door. (Usually I make one for you.) Helps with house training, they learn to ring the bell to alert you that they need to go out. Some use large craft bells, some use cow bells



Recommendations include: "The Dog Listener", "Puppies for Dummies", and many more...


​​And of course, Lots of Love and Patience HEAVY DOLLOPS OF THIS ONE!



Thanks to
for comprising much of the above list.

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