What Age Is The Best Age For A Puppy To Leave It’s Mama and Litter Mates?
Helping A New Puppy transition to your Home
Few things are as exciting for a dog lover or family as adopting a new puppy — the little bundle of cuteness and joy that will grow up to be an integral part of the family and the most loyal friend.
Understandable as it might be to want to get one as soon as they’re born, showing restraint is of the utmost importance. The long-term temperament and sociability of the puppy depend on it. Taking puppies away from their mother too soon can rob them of the social skills and life lessons that would have become part of their character. Doing so will only cause much trouble and headache for you and others that could have been avoided otherwise.
This post aims to help you choose the right time to take a puppy away from its mother and how exactly to go about it without harming it for life.
When Is The Right Time?
During the first few weeks after their birth, puppies are highly reliant on their mothers’ care. From their mama and each other, the puppies learn the important social and life skills they use throughout their lives. This is when they learn that humans occupy the dominant role in the relationship as they see how their mother interacts with her owners.
This is also where they learn that biting is bad and how not to play rough. When the puppies play fight, they get a sense of how not to bite too hard and not elicit cries or whines from their siblings. The weaning process is critical to observe properly as it is important for both the puppy’s nutrition and the mother’s health. Abrupt weaning can be detrimental to the dog’s mammary glands that can cause mastitis in later life.
According to most veterinarians, most dogs should stay with their mother for at least 8 weeks. This gives enough time to coincide with the mammary gland’s drying and for the puppy to acquire the skills it needs to be a well-rounded dog.
The negative effects of not observing the process required to gradually take a new puppy away from its litter and into your home include but is not limited to:
· A Weak Immune Systems. The lack of proper nurturing and breast milk can take a toll on the immune system’s development. Depression and sadness too can have an impact on their ability to resist diseases.
· A Loss of Appetite. Dogs can feel emotions as acutely as humans can. Sadness can harm the dog’s overall temperament and even affect their diet and eating patterns. This has an added consequence of possibly having a sickly dog as the lack of nutrition affects the immune system.
· Severe Separation Anxiety. The dog can get agitated or even hysterical when you’re not around and can cause damage to your property or harm to itself. This will make leaving the house for any period of time or even going into another room very difficult.
· Poor Social Skills and Decreased Learning Ability. As the puppy quickly grows into an adult dog, the lack of social graces and territorial behavior begins to manifest and makes it difficult for you when on walks, with meeting other dogs, or when having visitors.
Steps on Mitigating Separation Anxiety?
Throughout the 6–8 week period before the adoption and well after the adoption, there are certain steps to ensure a smooth and healthy transition for the puppy into your home. These steps will mitigate any feelings of separation anxiety and avoid any feelings of trauma that can affect the puppy’s long-term development.
Step 1: During the last few weeks before weaning, it is crucial that the puppy was introduced to human beings and human contact. Even better if they are introduced and help by their soon-to-be owners. This allows them to be accustomed to human presence and learn to be in the submissive role.
Step 2: When it’s finally time to bring the new puppy home, make the necessary preparations. Acquire a crate and bedding for the pup to sleep in for the first few weeks. It would help if you didn’t allow the puppy to sleep on the bed right away because it might then grow overly attached to your presence and be overly agitated when you’re away.
Buy some doggy toys and a food and water bowl. Some vets suggest not showering the puppy a few days to a week once introduced to the home but when you finally get to bathing it, be sure to use anti-ticks and fleas shampoo and soap, preferably the kinds safe for sensitive new puppies. Also, put away any fragile pieces of furniture or displays and any electrical wiring that the puppy might chew on.
Step 3: Begin potty training immediately and set up a strict feeding schedule. Also, teach it the meaning of the word “no” and when you’re serious. By getting the puppy used to the rules of the house early on, you’ll save yourself a lot of stress when the puppy grows up and becomes harder to teach and control.
Step 4: Schedule an appointment with a qualified veterinarian and begin the process of administering the necessary vaccinations and shots to protect the puppy from diseases. Don’t take the puppy out for walks or parks until all the puppy vaccinations have been administered. Parvo is a deadly disease that is very dangerous to unvaccinated puppies.
Step 5: Touch the puppy often. Especially behind the ears, the paws, and have it get used to being groomed.
What to Expect?
The first few weeks of the puppy’s arrival are crucial, to say the least, but they don’t have to be stressful. Having a game plan and knowing what you will do will greatly minimize the hardship you might go through as you try to get the puppy adjusted to its new home.
The first thing the puppy might do is cry and whine as it looks for its mother. Know that it is quite normal as hard this is to know and will only go on at certain times. By the 2nd or 3rd day, the puppy would have already started associating you as its new parental figure. It will also look to you for attention and cry when you’re not around. Respond to these with patience and understanding while also sticking to the game plan and following the schedule consistently.
Do not be overly upset if the puppy has accidents or breaks things. Such things are normal and can be seen in even human babies. Try to stick to the routine you have set up to ensure accidents happen less and less. Puppy-proofing your house is important.
The puppy will also cry during the night and long for your attention when you’re not around, it is important to leave them, and they will usuallyl get used to it after a few nights. Puppies can be spoiled, too, and always coming to it every time it calls will condition them to think that whining well get it what it wants.
Puppies sleep more than adult dogs. They will be asleep more than they are awake. This is completely normal.
Some Tips to Keep in Mind
· Take the first week with the puppy as calmly and as easy-going as possible. If the household is hectic and filled with stimuli, this will rub off the puppy and over-excite it — making it harder to foster a cool and relaxed demeanor when it’s older
· As stated before, approach every situation concerning the new puppy with patience and understanding. Scold them for bad behavior in an assertive tone but refrain from using physical violence to avoid anti-social canine behavior manifesting in later life. Spanking the puppy for accidents or bad behavior is never advisable.
· Keep the puppy included in family interactions and have it frequently held by family members. However, if the puppy is tired or sleepy, allow it to rest peacefully. Puppies need a lot of sleep. It is also helpful to have the puppy spend time alone regularly in small amounts to avoid separation anxiety later. While it is important to get the puppy used to the human touch, which improves socialization skills and helps prevent any territorial protectiveness that can render it dangerous for visitors or other dogs, it is equally important for the dog to become accustomed to time alone.
Though crate training is advisable. It can also be overdone. Too much time in the crate can suppress the puppy’s natural curiosity and render it scared of new things. Ensure the time the puppy spends inside the crate is limited during the day. Place the crate in a quiet part of the house so the puppy can associate the crate with rest.
· Treat the puppy with enough love and affection in order to create a strong familial bond.
Having a dog can be a deeply gratifying and joyous experience for anyone. The benefits one can bring to your mental health and the bonding time they offer the family only affirms their status as man’s best friend. Nevertheless, we must keep in mind that puppies are like babies too — what we do to them during their infancy can have life-long consequences. They can be scared and traumatized by negative experiences as much as human beings.
When adopting a puppy, keep in mind that you have become its new parent. It becomes your responsibility; the one who knows what’s best — and that includes knowing when the right time to come into your life.
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Anastasia C. Stellato PhD; Cate E. Dewey DVM, PhD; Tina M. Widowski PhD and Lee Niel PhD. (2020) Evaluation of associations between owner presence and indicators of fear in dogs during routine veterinary examinations. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 257:10, 1031–1040. Online publication date: 2-Nov-2020.