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Did you know that a puppy has the brain of an adult dog at seven weeks of age?

Isn't that an amazing statement? Researchers have discovered that this is true, and that is why I take advantage of the developmental stages of the puppy through an intense program of early learning. Early learning experiences have profound implications for later success in life. From birth until seven weeks of age is the time when the greatest changes, physically and behaviorally take place, and is the time when the basic personality of the puppy is shaped. Behavior is never entirely inherited or acquired. 35% of behavior/ performance is genetic and 65% comes from external influences or what is put into that puppy, such as management, environmental influences, nutrition, etc. However, it can be guided and modified by the influence of experiences. Therefore it is possible to modify behavior by modifying the environment through early conditioning and training.

Every puppy's experience will stimulate neural development which results in brain development. As the brain develops, so does the ability to learn, which in turn continues to stimulate more neural development to develop more of the brain. Research has shown that stress, in moderation, stimulates the brain at the most crucial time helps with the development. Researchers have discovered that in order for puppies to develop confidence, trust, and a positive approach to learning, they required certain types of handling and experiences during specific times in their early development. By doing these certain things during the puppy's upbringing, the puppy will have an increased capacity to learn. When a puppy is stimulated during this time, his brain matures faster, brain cells get bigger and there are more interconnections between the brain cells. Since this is such a formative state for the puppy's brain, every experience that the puppy has at this early age will have a tremendous impact on the development of his mind. This is why the first weeks are such a critical period in the puppy's life. By managing the environment we can influence the final form and structure of his brain.

The results of many behavior studies and EEG measurements demonstrate that 8 week old puppies function at nearly an adult level in terms of learning ability. However, as puppies mature, the ease with which they learn noticeably begins to decline by about 16 weeks.

Research has also shown that by exercising the brain with mental challenges the total brain function improves, not just in one area. Nerve conductivity is improved in both speed and accuracy, recovery time of the neural synapses is shortened as the chemical and electrical signals react faster, and the nerves can fire repeatedly quicker. the brain mass increases dramatically as nerve cells density increases. So, with the early intervention, we are actually helping the puppy's brain to develop to it's fullest potential.

There are other milestones during this time of development that we encounter that we must work through that are part of this process. We work on skills that develop motor and problem solving, confidence and trust building, manners, positive discipline, and many others. By giving the puppy this upbringing the puppy is much more capable of developing positive interactions and an increased willingness and capacity to learn.


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