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I'm going to welcome a puppy in my home for the first time but he will already be 14 weeks old (3 months and 2 weeks) and it will be the end of the socialization period. From what I understand, the optimal period to inculcate good behaviors and to accustom the dog to different contexts is between 8 - 12 weeks. So, have you ever adopted puppies after 14 weeks of age and do you think that this can strongly impact the puppy's behavior?

Thanks in advance

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I have adopted 2 dogs in the past that were already 6 months old and both were abandoned by their first owners. The socialization period is when the character of the dog is shaped the most, but that doesn't mean the dog simply stops learning and changing behavior after that time.

In my personal experience, the following events shape the dog the most during socialization and are hard to change after that:

  • Contact to other dogs. If the puppy didn't have many opportunities to interact with many other dogs, it may become insecure or aggressive towards dogs later in life. If the puppy did interact with many different dogs, it probably learned how to communicates with and act around dogs and there probably won't be much aggression when meeting other dogs.
  • Contact to other humans. If the puppy had some traumatic experiences with humans early in life, it may become insecure or aggressive towards other humans or avoid humans as much as possible. It's very much possible for the dog to build a positive relationship with its human family, but strangers may always be a problem. OTOH, if the puppy had contact to many different people as a puppy, it probably becomes more social and welcoming towards strangers later in life.
  • Any traumatic event. One example: our current dog was abandoned in a forest and was caught by either some rangers or soldiers or someone with green clothing. She's still afraid of anyone wearing green clothing because of that, even if she knows the person and interacts with them when they wear any other color.
  • Climbing stairs. Dogs need to learn how to climb and descend stairs and if they didn't learn that as a puppy, some never learn it.

Other things like riding cars, bathing or clipping nails might be frightening at first for a dog, but in general they can be taught to accept these events even long after the socialization. It may take longer, but it's not impossible.

By the way, the moment you bring your dog home, you start a short almost-socialization phase. You cannot completely change the character and behavior of your dog anymore, but you can teach them how they are supposed to act, for example whether they are allowed on the sofa, on the table, on the bed etc. This phase usually lasts for 2 weeks, but can last longer for insecure or anxious dogs.

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  • I agree and confirm this answer. In my own experience, dogs like mine who are afraid of everything will take a bit longer to learn the rules, as you already stated. My dog took about a month to learn he was not allowed on the couch. Which is very inconvenient when said dog weighs between 40 and 60 pounds and wants to sit on the owner. Feb 16, 2023 at 22:01
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At 14 weeks, you puppy is still just a puppy. I do not expect any specific, additional problems caused by those extra 2 weeks.

As a support for my claim, there were dogs which were adopted at adulthood or even at old age, and they were still not a major problem.

An extreme example is White Fang, described by Jack London.

On the reverse side, no two individuals are the same. You might happen to get the rebel of the litter, and then you might get into problems - but again, the problems would be related to its personality, rather than to its age.

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My dog was 6 months old when we got him. He had always been hiding in the corner of his previous home (home, more like prison. The smallest apartment I've ever seen) and he never interacted with any of his littermates. He did the same thing in our home for a while but then he learned that me and my family wanted nothing but the best for him and started to socialize with us. He's been the best dog I've ever met since those days.

The lesson from this story is that 12 weeks is just a figure and estimate. Gizmo (my dog) has learned all the essential skills after being adopted at 6 months. Early puppyhood is a special time indeed, and you should do everything possible to make sure it's a good learning experience for your pup. Because if not then, it may not happen at all.

It may be now or never, my friend!

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