We have had some rather noisy thunderstorms this summer and a couple of readers have called asking why their pups suddenly started shying away from them and hiding during even ordinary thunderstorms. Since pups have two critical fear periods as they mature, it is important that all owners of puppies learn when these periods occur and what they should do, and not do.
The first fear impact period occurs from 8 to 11 weeks of age, according to Joachim Volhard and Gail T. Fisher in their book, "Teaching Dog Obedience Classes." This is an "impact" period, meaning that if the pup is frightened in any way during this time, the animal will be apprehensive about that situation for the rest of its life. Therefore, great care should be taken to prevent any frightening episode at this age. Avoid taking the pup to the veterinarian for shots or elective surgery. If it is imperative that some medical procedure be performed, take the precaution of bringing a chunk or two of cooked liver with you, or a favorite toy that will distract and give the pup something pleasant to think about.