Information for dog owners

Spooky Period

Spooky Stages

 

Similar to children puppies and young dogs have so-called spooky stages.

During this time, the dog reacts fearful and reluctant to new stimuli but also what is already known is re-evaluated.

Perhaps you have already experienced the following situations: Every day during your walk you pass by that large black bin and your dog has never had a problem with it but suddenly it seems like the most dangerous thing on this planet. Or the person with the umbrella is suddenly an acute danger and must be commented with barking.

 

If this sounds familiar: Welcome to the spooky stages - or also the so-called fear periods.

There are 4 spooky stages with a 5th phase currently being " discovered " and researched. The spooky stages each take about 1 or 2-3 weeks.

Experiences that are made during this time are particularly intense and experiences are stored correspondingly (also the bad experiences). This learning period is similar to the imprinting period again.

Depending on the breed and size of the dog the following time frames can be given:

  • Phase 1: In the 8th week of life (all breeds - duration 1 week)
  • Phase 2: with 4.5 months or later (in late-blooming breeds or if the dog is lagging behind in its overall development - duration 3 weeks)
  • Phase 3: approximately with 9 months or later (in late-blooming breeds or if the dog is lagging behind in its overall development - duration 3 weeks). Attention: puberty and awakening of the hunting instinct is also at this stage - thus it is considered a very sensitive time.
  • Phase 4: approximately with 12-18 months (in late-blooming breeds or if the dog is lagging behind in its overall development; duration about 3 weeks)
  • Phase 5: approximately with 2-2.5 years (at late-blooming breeds or if the dog is lagging behind in its overall development - duration 3 weeks)

 

ATTENTION:

The 3rd phase usually coincides with the development of sexual maturity and the awakening of the hunting instinct and represents a major challenge for many dog owners and their dogs! It is also called "sensitive" phase.

 

How do you know if your dog is in his spooky phase?

In the spooky period the dog often is:

  • Very anxious
  • Open to only a few new things
  • Easily scared
  • Already known things and experiences will be reassessed

Important!

Poor experiences during previous spooky periods will most likely be more intense in the subsequent spooky period, for example, if a puppy was overwhelmed with visitors during the first spooky period, it may react with exaggerated anxiety or aggression towards visitors during the next spooky period. The puppies/dogs fear should be handled with patience and kindness, and training during this period should put the dog in a position of success, while allowing it to work things out while building self-confidence.

 

How should you behave during these phases?

 

USE NEW STIMULI SPARINGLY

Due to the fact that everything new is much more stressing to the dog, new stimuli should be added sparingly. 

 

MAKE NO BIG DEAL OUT OF IT

The puppies/dogs fear should be handled with patience and kindness, and any training during this period should put the dog in a position of success, while allowing it to work things out while building self-confidence.

 

GO AND CHECK IT OUT

The dog should have the ability to calmly deal with the stimuli. Don’t force him to deal with it but allow him to take a closer look if he wants.

 

GIVE HIM SOME TIME

The dog will need some time to check out the stimuli so don’t push.

 

DO AS I DO - DEMONSTRATION

You can show the dog that the thing is not as dangerous as it seems (without fuss - best touch silently the „sinister object" and give him time to experience for himself that there is no danger).

Useful activities

...in the making

Motivation

...in the making