There are many behavioural problems which occur in all animals. We have gone into some detail to describe a few of these and provided some recommendations for dealing with these problems. If you are concerned about any behaviour an animal is displaying it is best to seek expert veterinary advice for the most appropriate treatment.

It is widely accepted that the domestic dog descended in the most part from the wolf. As the relationship developed, dogs would have been valued as scavengers, partners in hunting, a source of warmth at night and as guards. One of the key features that link the wolf and the domestic dog is that they are both highly social animals that like to live within a pack, be it a pack of other wolves or dogs or a human pack. This feature has a great influence on their psychology and behaviour.

It has been suggested that fear, aggressiveness, submission and dominance have determined the behaviour of social dogs. These behaviours have proven to be the best strategies for dogs to use at particular times. In addition to this, through their association with humans, dogs have developed social awareness in that they are aware of other dogs or people around them.

Behavioural Development

Newborn puppies are completely dependent on their mother but as they develop physically they become more independent and aware of their surroundings.

The stages of development can be divided into distinct phases.

The Neonatal Period
  • spans the first two weeks of life
  • are completely dependent on their mother
  • sensitive to touch, taste and smell but movement is limited
  • eyes and ears are still closed
  • main activities are sleeping and feeding
The Transitional Period
  • occcurs during third week
  • period of rapid development from total dependence on dam to a degree of independence
  • eyes and ears open and respond to stimuli
  • start crawling backwards and forwards
  • able to stand and lap milk from a saucer
  • will defecate and urinate away from its bedding and its mother 
  • start play fighting with litter mates
  • start to display social signs such as tail-wagging and growling
The Socialisation Period
  • occurs from end of third week up to week 10
  • critical period for formation of social relationships
  • begin to learn about their environment
  • will interact with each other and with humans
  • may initiate play with raised paw or tail wagging
  • will learn to control biting through play experience
  • dominant and subordinate puppies will become apparent
  • may show prey killing and sexual behaviour e.g. mounting other puppies

The Juvenile Period

  • extends from 10 weeks to sexual maturity
  • gradual improvement in motor skills
  • learn relevance of behaviours and which are appropriate to specific situations.
  • basic learning capacities are fully developed at start of this period but by about 4 months old previous learned tasks may interfere with new learning
  • may still not be trained to do difficult tasks due to their short attention span


Learn more with a Distance Education Course  Click here to enrol
ACS offers a range of relevant courses including:
  • Pet Care
  • Dog Care
  • Dog Psychology & Training
  • Cat Psychology and Training
A course that focuses mostly on Dogs and cats, and secondarily on other animals that are more commonly kept as pets. The general principles that come through in this course will however provide a broad understanding of howe to care for pets of all types.
Whatever type of pet you keep, or hope to keep, this course is designed to develop knowledge and skills in pet care practices for people who work with animals or who want to care for their own pets.
Duration:100 hours (nominal duration)
·Understand the general principles of pet care as they relate to different types of pets.
·Describe general principles of care for specific kinds of animals: cats, dogs, birds, fish, rabbits, reptiles and amphibians, and rodents.
There are eight lessons in this module as follows:
1. Introduction to Animal Care
2. Cats
3. Dogs
4. Birds
5. Fish
6. Rabbits
7. Reptiles and Amphibians
8. Guinea Pigs, Hamsters and Mice.
Many things, including the following:
  • Develop timetables for husbandry tasks to be undertaken over a typical week, caring for a specific breeds of animals (several, but your choice).
  • Recognize things that indicate a dog is sick – diet and temperament
  • Develop a checklist of things which should be done regularly to ensure the good health for pets
  • Determine things a person should consider when trying to decide what type of pet to acquire
  • Compare the requirements and restrictions for keeping different animals as pets in your locality
  • Discuss the advantages/disadvantages of keeping different types of cats
  • Explain why is it particularly important to de-sex cats and when de-sexing should be carriedout
  • Discuss the nutritional requirements of a cat, and identify the cause of N.S.H., and its early signs.
  • Describe problems associated with long haired dogs
  • Discuss a dog’s sleeping requirements if it lives in a temperate climate
  • Explain problems can arise through over feeding a dog
  • Identify ideal diet for a dog
  • Explain why puppies under 6 months should be allowed to exercise themselves
  • Determine common signs of a general disease condition in a dog
  • Explain why birds moult.
  • Discuss the characteristics of large, open aviaries, and all their requirements
  • Discuss how a small bird should be caught in its cage
  • Explain what breathlessness indicates in a bird
  • Discuss factors are common in the care of all fish
  • Explain why it is important to maintain the correct level of oxygen in water for fish
  • Discuss the differences in requirements for caring for salt water fish compared with freshwater fish
  • Explain the handling, caging, feeding and other aspects of rabbit care.
  • Discuss different colours and breeds of rabbits
  • Discuss the environmental/caging needs of all reptiles
  • Discuss the feeding requirements of reptiles
  • Explain the handling of reptiles.
  • Discuss the care of both sick and healthy amphibians and reptiles.
  • Explain how you determine the sex of a guinea pig, and at what age do they reach sexual maturity
  • Explain the temperature guinea pigs should be kept at, and what happens if the temperature drops
  • Explain the feed and nutritional needs of rodents.
  • Discuss what can happen if a female hamster with a litter is disturbed
  • Explain how many litters a year could a female mouse produce if not prevented from doing so
  • Explain health and disease problems associated with mice.

 Learn More about Caring for Pets with the following courses:

Pet Care -click here

Natural Health Care for Animals -click here