Canine Partners of Cape Cod

Gabi  von der Polizei, NW3


Socialization is NOT simply the ability to socialize with other dogs by enrolling a puppy in a puppy play group. Proper socialization includes exposure to many difference places, people, and things and is most important from 7-16 weeks of age.  When thoroughly giving puppies positive experiences at a very young age, puppies exhibit more confidence and less fear and anxiety, are friendlier around people and other animals, and adapt easier to new situations. 

K9 Nose Work(R)

K9 Nose Work(R)  group and private lessons for those wishing to learn this fun new dog sport.

Socialization and Puppy Life Stages

Rescue BFFs, Sandie Santayah & Ava

Puppy Development Stages
The first year is most important to your puppy’s emotional development, especially during the first 4 months of life (the imprinting period.)  By understanding the development stages, you can provide your puppies with what they need when they need it most, for optimal development resulting in a well-adjusted, well-mannered dog.

The Imprinting Period: First 4 Months of Age
Puppies have a small window of time during brain development when they are most impressionable. This is called the imprinting, or critical learning period.  For puppies, the imprinting period is during the first 16 weeks of life. Puppies learn more during this time than they can learn in a life time. Therefore, the quality and quantity of what they experience will have a huge impact on their future personalities and determine the formation of many of their “good” or “bad” behavior tendencies.

Birth -7 Weeks  (Neonatal Period, Transition Period, and 1st Socialization Period)
Puppies gain use of all their senses, become mobile, start growing baby teeth, transition to eating solid foods, and become completely weaned (independent) from their dog moms during the first 7 weeks of life,

Learning is already rapidly occurring, making it important that human caretakers provide puppies with specific neurological stimulation, a complex environment, and careful, yet thorough, socialization for proper development and adjustment to living in human society.

During this time, there are also very critical lessons that the puppies must learn from their dog moms and siblings. Therefore, puppies should not be removed from their original homes before 7 weeks of age.

7–16 Weeks (2nd Socialization Period)
The optimal time for puppies to be placed with their new human families is at 7-8 weeks of age.  As soon as your puppy comes home, time is of the essence for you to provide a huge amount of high quality socialization and schooling. This is the key to creating a socially self-confident, well-behaved puppy.  It is the time when your puppy will form strong human bonds. It is also the key to preventing fearful, shy, and/or aggressive behaviors from developing later in life!

Fear-Impact Period: During the 2nd Socialization Period, when your puppy is around 8-11 weeks of age,  If puppies have traumatic (“bad” or scary) experiences during this time, the impressions are likely to last a lifetime and resurface during maturity.  So, protect your puppy from these long-term effects by avoiding bad experiences.  Should your puppy become afraid for any reason, dangerous or not, immediately step in and remove him/her from the situation.  Do not console or coddle, just remove the pup.

It's really important that nothing bad happens to your puppy while he or she is going through fear stages and that you do things to help build his or her confidence, such as positive training and rewarding experiences.

4–6 Months (Juvenile Period)
During this time, your puppy will gain more energy, and become more “mouthy” and restless from the discomfort of teething as the baby teeth begin to fall out and the adult teeth erupt. This will typically occur between 4-6 months of age, but sometimes lasts longer.

Continued training incorporating lots of play and physical exercise will reduce the destructive tendencies that can occur during this phase of development.

2nd Fear-Impact Period: Starting in the 5th month of the Juvenile period, there may be a Second Fear-Impact Period that lasts for 3 weeks.  This is similar to the First Fear-Impact Period. If it does not occur at this time, it will occur later during the Adolescent Period.

6–12 Months (Adolescent Period)
Your puppy will now be attaining some independent tendencies and will begin to test his/her wings! This is usually a difficult time for many puppy parents, but can be very difficult for those with puppies that missed early establishment of boundaries, socialization and training.

Your puppy will be likely to have much more energy, spend more time exploring the environment, become easily distracted, and may even seem less interested in you and forgetful of his/her training skills.  Just be patient, consistent, and supportive—make sure boundaries are still well in place, review your training, and continue building on your successes.

2nd Fear-Impact Period (if has not yet occurred): Puppies that did not experience their Second Fear-Impact Period in the last stage of puppyhood will experience it during the Adolescent Period. The Second Fear-Impact period is similar to the First Fear-Impact Period and lasts for approximately 3 weeks.

1–4 Years of Age (Maturity Period)
Physically, small-medium breed puppies develop more quickly than large-giant breed puppies. Smaller breed puppies will usually attain maturity by around 1 year of age and large-giant puppies can take up to 2 years.
Mentally and socially, a dog may be considered a puppy for up to 4 years!

Puppy fear stages are typical & inevitable, but don’t assume your dog will “grow out of it” without your leadership and help. The parenting instincts to soothe may kick in during puppy fear stages, but dogs do not understand comforting like we do. When going through puppy fear stages the last thing you want to do is pick them up to soothe them. Instead of being reassuring, you are telling them that being afraid is the appropriate reaction and that they are doing a good job.  In this stage you need to act as a mamma dog not a mamma human.

For example, during thunderstorms, mamma dogs will act as if all is normal. If a pup wanders too far away, she simply will just bring them back. If the mamma dog were to soothe them and act differently she would nurture the fear. So in the human world, if a puppy runs and hides during a thunderstorm and you start talking in a soft voice, offering treats and wrapping them up in a blanket to soothe them you just accidentally reinforced that fear. Instead turn on the radio or TV and act as if nothing is wrong.

The important thing to remember when encountering puppy fear stages, is always do what is best for your dog. Help your dog work through puppy fear stages without forcing, coaxing or trying to comfort. Remember to focus on confidence building. If your puppy is skittish walking on a strange surface, don’t tell them “it’s OK,” help them get over their apprehension. You can use fun training and play distractions during these fearful times. Be an advocate for your dog, especially during puppy fear stages and you will be rewarded with a stronger, more enjoyable relationship for years to come.

We are here to help you with your puppy's socialization needs.


Train your dog to track humans for civilian competitions, AKC, etc.

Group Training


K9 Nose Work(R)


Private Training

All of the Above


Puppy (Young Dog) Social Experience Exposure

Segen as a pup.

Real Life Scent Training in a store with many distracting activities and odors.

  1. The following is taken from theNational Association of Canine Scent Work and  website.


K9 Nose Work(R) is the specific term, registered and used to describe the canine scent detection activity specifically developed by Ron Gaunt, Amy Herot & Jill Marie O'Brien. The three founders of the activity wanted to use their extensive experience from working in the professional canine detection world to give pet dogs and their people a fun and easy way to learn and apply scent detection skills, and so they crafted a new activity: K9 Nose Work. 

In K9 Nose Work, dogs learn how to search for a specific odor or odors and find the source. Dogs start by searching for their favorite food or toy reward hidden in a variety of environments, increasing the challenges and adding new search skills as the dog progresses. Most people will choose to have their dogs learn to find the target odors used in K9 Nose Work: birch, anise, and clove; those looking to keep it fun searching for food or toy can still have fun and progress in the activity. Once target odors are introduced to the dog, he will search for the odor only and find its source, then get rewarded by his handler with his favorite food or toy reward.

K9 Nose Work introduces dogs to four different search elements: container, interior, exterior, and vehicles. Dogs build their hunt drive and learn foundation search skills in all four elements. Later stages of K9 Nose Work introduce advanced detection and handling skills to teams. Dogs are exposed to a myriad of complex search scenarios, while continuing to condition their foundation skills. Handlers sharpen their observational skills and learn when and how to take action during a search. Teams will practice searching to the competition standards set by the National Association of Canine Scent Work (NACSW), which includes searching for blind hides (location of hide unknown to handler), searching for multiple hides in a single search area, and, at the higher levels of competition, searching for an unknown number of hides in a search area.

K9 Nose Work is an activity that uses real-world environments and can be done almost anywhere. Every search has the potential to be a dramatically different & highly stimulating experience for both dog & handler, just by changing hide placement, or searching under different weather conditions. By participating in K9 Nose Work with your dog, you're giving him the freedom to express and refine his natural talents, and he's giving you a glimpse into how he "sees" the world.

Some of the many benefits of K9 Nose Work are:

  • Dogs easily burn lots of mental & physical energy doing searches
  • Searches can be done anywhere you can take your dog
  • No prior training is required and no obedience is needed
  • In classes, dogs work one at a time and rest crated or safely in a vehicle between searches so reactive dogs can enjoy the activity, too
  • Shy or fearful dogs build confidence and overactive dogs put their energy into fun searches
  • Stronger bond between dog & handler as handler learns to observe, understand, and rely upon his dog 


Any dog can learn K9 Nose Work. The training methodology is designed to help pet dogs tap into their hunting instinct, learn independent problem-solving skills, and to build broad and solid foundation scent detection skills that will enable them to successfully face new and greater challenges in K9 Nose Work.

All K9 Nose Work dogs begin the game by searching for their favorite food or toy. They search in an obedience-free zone, without handler interruption or unintended correction. When dogs find the hidden toy or food reward, they play with it or eat it, self-rewarding and reinforcing their successful searching behavior. Many K9 Nose Work dogs will learn the activity searching for their food or toy reward for 3 months to a year. This time period before introducing a target odor allows for dogs to build their desire to hunt, stamina for searching, and skills for searching in many environments without the risk of failure, distraction or disinterest in the search. It also gives the handler time to learn how to observe the dog and to learn handling skills. In K9 Nose Work, pet dogs are learning a task that is typically assigned to world-class, specifically bred high-drive working dogs, so it's important to move the training at a pace that will bring the best performance out of the dog. 

Throughout a dog & handler team's training in K9 Nose Work, the emphasis will always be on creating learning experiences for the dog and supporting his independent problem solving, not commanding him to perform a series of tasks in a predetermined manner. K9 Nose Work is all about the dogs and all about celebrating their amazing abilities.

Garin as a puppy learning to sit and balance

​K9 Nose Work® Training

Professional Puppy Socialization​

Gabi - NW2 Exterior Search

Puppy Socialization