Dog Behavior: Understanding the Dog Flight Instinct Period

Is your dog testing its wings?

Puppy flight instinct
Puppy flight instinct | Source

A Taste of Freedom with Safety in mind

Dog Developmental Stages: The Flight Instinct (4 to 8 months)Period

In the previous hub, we took a look into a dog's fear periods taking place when the puppy is between 8 to 10 weeks and then 6 to 14 months. This hub is about another important developmental stage known as "the flight instinct period". As the name implies, a puppy during this stage will put on its wings and start "flying". Of course, not in the real sense of the word!

What happens during this period, which generally takes place between the ages of 4 to 8 months, is the puppy becomes more independent and confident. At this stage you may see more curiosity to investigate things but also a certain level of stubbornness. During this stage, the puppy is about to enter adolescence and there are hormonal changes taking place. Owners report dogs becoming more disobedient and "testing" and it is not a coincidence that this is a time when dog obedience trainers see many clients pleading for help.

In nature, this period takes place when young canines are old enough ( 4 months old) to leave the den and start learning how to hunt and start exploring their surroundings.

From a domestic setting, during this stage the puppy begins to explore places out of the home. This is when dogs start becoming reluctant to come when called. If your puppy was always sticking by your side, now the honeymoon phase is over; he may likely ignore you now. Because this is a developmental stage, it may still take place regardless of how much training you did before, therefore, better be prepared for it. Failure to address this stage properly, may lead to a dog that believes a recall is optional.

This is also a stage when the puppy goes into increased bouts of chewing. Now, that the puppy teeth are starting to fall out and the adult teeth are starting to come in, the puppy feels compelled to chew, so make sure to provide safe edible and non-edible chew toys suitable for puppies.

Some dog owners report seeing the first "zoomies" during this stage. In other words, the puppy starts zooming through the home running at full pace in circles, over tables, under tables, across the lawn as if possessed. This is actually fun to watch and an integral part of puppy hood.


Catch me if you can!

Puppy flight period, a critical developmental stage.
Puppy flight period, a critical developmental stage. | Source

How to Deal With the Flight Instinct Period

So Rover is no longer listening to you and is acting as if he has never hear your commands before? Thankfully this phase will pass, but it does not hurt to polish the training you have done so far.

What to Do During this Stage:

  • Keep the young dog on a leash or a long line until this phase passes
  • Work on recall exercises following important rules to train a dog to come when called.
  • Never punish your dog for coming to you, no matter how frustrated you are.
  • Always make a big deal, throw a party when your dog obeys the recall command
  • Make yourself more interesting than anything else around; act silly!
  • Keep up the training!
  • Avoid chasing your dog or you will train a new game: the keep away game, a popular game among canines!
  • Never call your dog to you immediately followed by something perceived as unpleasant by your dog such as clipping nails or leaving the dog park.
  • If you need to leave the park or give a nail trim, call your dog, let him play with a tug toy or give some treats and then a minute or so later proceed to the unpleasant task; yet, work on making the unpleasant task more pleasant (read how to make nail trims fun for your dog and if you must leave the park, make the walk back home fun and entertaining)
  • Provide safe chew toys
  • Enjoy the zoomies!

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Comments 3 comments

wetnosedogs profile image

wetnosedogs 4 years ago from Alabama

wow, that all makes sense reading it like that. Dogs are doing just what comes natural for them.


alexadry profile image

alexadry 4 years ago from USA Author

The puppy's developmental stages have always attracted me, it is so intriguing!


nadelma profile image

nadelma 4 years ago from Bushkill, Pa

Great hub. Sometimes dogs can be so frustrating when they are young, but turn out to be such a pleasure and

and your best friend.

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