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Fear Stages in Puppies



If you’ve ever welcomed a puppy into your family (even if it’s just the two of you) you’ve experienced the pure joy of puppyhood – the curiosity, playfulness and unbounded affection plus the intoxicating smell of puppy breath. Puppyhood can last too long for some rowdy puppies and seems all too short to others when we miss that sweet innocence they bring into our lives.

If you had the blessing of bringing a puppy into your life you may have noticed that seemingly  out of nowhere your outgoing sociable puppy suddenly becomes fearful of new people coming in to the house; or perhaps common household noises send your puppy running for shelter. This is a very common but misunderstood issue.


Alt=A frightened, wet, muddy Papillon puppy


These episodes are called “fear stages in puppies”. Typically there are four fear stages that puppies may go through. The age of the puppies can vary but a general guideline is: around five weeks of age (prior to your having acquired the puppy), around six months, around one year of age and around one and a half years of age. These are average ages and will vary from pup to pup. Some puppies have very mild or even no signs of fear stages; other puppies may show severe signs of fear. Here is a short list of symptoms to watch for:

  • Abnormal reactions to noises
  • Nervousness around things to which they have never reacted before
  • Aggression towards other dogs or people when being walked
  • Reacting towards people they know as if they were strangers
  • Isolating him/herself and/or hiding under beds or furniture

An average fear stage can last two to four weeks although I have known a fear stage to last eight weeks. This is the ONLY time during their puppyhood that I recommend you “bubble” your dog, meaning don’t take them out on walks or introduce them to new experiences, dogs or people.

photo credit: MSVG via photopin cc

photo credit: MSVG via photopin cc

There’s nothing I love more than someone who takes the time to really think through their decision to get a a dog, Whether it be a puppy from a breeder, a rescue dog from a rescue organization or from the County Animal Shelter or Humane Society, doing your research and thoroughly thinking through this decision and searching out some professional advice can make the difference between a potentially bad experience for you and your potential pup or a wonderful experience of many years to come. This wonderful pro-active woman will not get her puppy until mid 2015 and contacted me for my advice about the breeder she chose and recommendations on a trainer as she lives across the country from me. The breeder she chose is one of the most responsible breeders that I have had the privilege to work with for many reasons.



Here are a few things to consider when you are thinking about bringing a four legged love one into your life;

  • Do you want a puppy to raise or would you prefer an older dog? Puppies are cute and fun but they take a lot of work; potty training, biting everything in sight, including you, your children, your furniture, etc. Puppies take a lot of time and A LOT of patience.
  • Do you have the time to train a puppy or the time to train a rescue dog to your home rules?
  • Dogs are expensive, do you have the funds to feed a dog, veterinary bills, toys, bones, grooming, a pet sitter or walker
  • Does your schedule have room to care for a dog, do you work long hours? Dogs don’t do well being alone for long periods of time.
  • Once you make the decision to get a dog, there are many decisions to make. Large dog, small dog, high energy dog, mellow dog, shedding, non shedding, pure bred, mix breed. If you choose a pure bred dog, research the breed, know what they were bred for.

This is a very big topic so chew on this and I’ll post a follow up with some more info on choosing a dog, a breeder, how to temperament test etc.

Hope you enjoy this info and send it out to anyone you know considering to get a pup!