So, your neighbor’s ‘wonder dog’ just had a litter of puppies and they’ve promised you one of them. You’re excited and can’t wait to get a little wonder-pup of your own to train. How long do you really need to wait? For today’s article we are going to discuss how long a puppy should stay with its mother so that you have a better idea what is going on and just how long you should wait before weaning. Let’s begin by discussing why it is important how long puppies DO stay with their mom.
What happens if a puppy is separated from its mother too early?
Weaning your puppy too early is not a good idea for a number of reasons. One good example is your dogs socialization skills. A puppy that is separated from its mother too early may develop anxiety around other dogs as it has not had sufficient time to get used to them. During the first 2-4 weeks your puppy is spending time with the other pups, playing and learning various cues that canines use to socialize. This can cause you a lot of problems in the future but it’s not your only concern that can arise from an early weaning.
More examples of early weaning issues
Dogs are extremely social animals and as such, weaning your dog too early may cause it to rely on you too much for its socialization. This can result in a dog that is way too attached to spending time with you, to the point where it exhibits anxiety whenever you are not there. A puppy weaned too early can also show signs of anxiety from missing it’s mother, which can result in loss of weight, poor appetite, and an immune system that is much less robust then a dog which has inherited it’s mother’s immunities through a longer period of feeding. As if all these are not bad enough, there is another very important reason you need regarding how long puppies need to stay with mom.
‘You want biting? ‘Cuz that’s how you get biting!’
Playtime with the mother and the other pups is how your puppy learns exactly how much biting is acceptable. When they play too rough, mom tends to intervene, and they also learn from the cries of the other puppies when they have accidentally caused pain to a brother or sister. The urge to play is natural in many species and dogs are no exception. If your puppy is weaned too early the chances of you and your child getting a nasty nip are going to be very high and you will have no one to blame but yourself. So exercise a little patience for both you and your puppy by only weaning them at the right time.
So, how long should puppies stay with their mother?
Knowing when puppies can leave their mom is key here. So when can a puppy be taken away from its mother? In general it is good to wait around 9 to 12 weeks before weaning your puppy from its mom. This makes sure that they are much more well-rounded when it comes to behavior around other dogs, they have also had plenty of time to pick up mom’s immunities from feedings, and just as importantly, they are used to seeing humans. You can and it is even encouraged to visit your puppy before this to get a little bonding time in. Just be sure that you aren’t taking the puppy home any earlier than 9 weeks (and if you can, wait 11 to 12 weeks for best results). Your patience can be the difference between having a cute and sassy (but often stubborn) little friend and having a ‘super dog’ that is well-adjusted and comfortable with its own personality and the people around them.
That seems like a long time to wait, though
We know that you are excited to get your little one home but waiting is surely for the best. Think of it in people-terms. If you were or can imagine having had to leave your parents at an early age to go to a new family, there would be a number of stress factors
” Nothing can replace that time with Mom.”
and your age and acquired skills are going to play an important part in how well you adapt. With humans this is less of a problem because you can take a child very early and still teach them what they need to know, but with dogs there are instincts and behaviors that need to be tempered and grown by other dogs. Simply put, we can read about a puppy’s development and understand it on an intellectual level but nothing can replace that time with Mom. It’s as simple as that.
What you can do in the meantime
Just because you can’t take the little one home yet doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy their company. If the Mom is at your home or if your friend or breeder agrees then you can start spending quality time with your puppy as soon as you like. You can begin bonding, getting them used to your scent and learning that you sometimes bring treats with you. You can try to teach basic tricks if you like (sit and stay, for instance), just try to limit training sessions to 5 or 10 minutes at a time so that the little one doesn’t get frustrated and so you can allow them playtime with the others if they want. By the time you take them home you’ll already be best friends!
Today we have discussed the importance of weaning your puppy at the right time. Yes, waiting is excruciating and you want to start your journey together right away, but patience is going to be key when it comes to what type of dog your puppy will grow up to be. So make those early visits, play with the little one, and when time comes to take them home you’ll be glad that you waited. We promise!