Wide-eyed puppies' first weeks of life are full of valuable learning experiences -- many of which take place alongside their mothers and littermates. Ample interaction with mom, and to an extent with siblings, is essential for any puppy's well-being. Pups must stay with their mothers for about two months if they're going to be healthy, happy, well-adjusted and well-behaved adult canines.
Puppies need to be together with their mothers and siblings for a minimum of 8 weeks, according to the website for the Wisconsin Humane Society as well as most other authorities on dogs. Premature separation from mother dogs can lead to a lot of socialization problems down the line. If you are taking a puppy away from mama, make sure the pup's no younger than 8 weeks.
Puppies rely on their mother dogs for nourishment completely for about four weeks and then partially until they're approximately 7 or 8 weeks old. Their first feedings are of the mother's nutrient-rich colostrum, which provides the puppies' protection until their own immune systems can sustain them. Puppies typically start consuming moistened commercial puppy food when they're a month or less in age, their mothers still nursing them on and off for several weeks longer. It is vital to never ever separate a puppy from his mother before weaning is over.
When puppies are around their mothers and siblings, they gain experience and enlightenment on what it means to be a canine, whether it comes to playing without bringing on physical harm in others or waiting their turn for things -- think eating. Energetic puppies are all about rough play full of tackling, nipping and chasing. When puppies have the pleasure of spending lots of time with their siblings, they develop understanding of how to interact properly with others. When a puppy bites his sibling just a little too painfully, she might snap back or cease the play session, giving him comprehension on what's "too aggressive." He'll learn in his weeks with his siblings and mom how to play painlessly and safely with others. This is another crucial reason for leaving littermates together with their mothers for no fewer than 8 weeks.
Separating a puppy from his mother too soon often brings upon disciplinary issues as the early-separated puppies mature. Biting their owners' hands too hard is one such issue. Apart from that, it can also trigger overall temperament problems due to insufficient socialization. Puppies who leave their mothers too quickly often become excessively nervous, timid, scared and even fierce -- toward people and fellow canines.
- UC Davis Koret Shelter Medicine Program: Canine - Guide to Raising Orphan Puppies
- Wisconsin Humane Society: Selecting a Dog Breeder
- ASPCA: Weaning
- ASPCA: Feeding Your Puppy
- ASPCA: Puppy Mill FAQ
- Nebraska Humane Society: Play Biting and Mouthing in Puppies
- Humane Society of Greater Miami: Dog Issues - Stages of Puppy Development
- Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images