Nothing is more exciting than the arrival of a new litter of puppies. The mother dog, however, might not share that excitement when it comes to humans in the nursery. Fear not, your dog still loves you; she just wants the best for her new arrivals.
The Mother Dog’s Role
After two months of pregnancy and hormonal surges, her long-awaited litter has arrived. Now your mother dog must adapt to her new role, that of caretaker and protector. She instinctively senses the complete helplessness of her newborns and even a very mild-mannered mother dog might curl her body around her litter or place her front and back legs over her nursing babes to shield them from human attention.
While everyone in the neighborhood wants a whiff of new puppy breath, wait a few days before inviting anyone over. A mother dog with a new litter is naturally anxious and she could view the presence of non-family members as a threat to her young.
Monitor Small Children
Kids are naturally loud, boisterous and they typically exhibit all the behaviors a mother dog does not want occurring around her babies. Instruct small children to talk in whispers before allowing them to enter the nursery. If the mother dog seems leery, have the child remain outside the room and bring a puppy out for her to see and touch.
Socializing the Litter
Puppies who don’t receive human attention can have problems adjusting in their new homes. Take time to pet and hold each puppy daily, even if you have to wait until the mother dog goes outside for a potty break. Within a couple of weeks, after the newborns’ eyes open, most mother dogs begin to relax, allowing more human interaction with their puppies. By the time the puppies are about 6 weeks old, most mother dogs will sit by complacently or take a nap as their puppies play enthusiastically with their humans.
When your mother dog relaxes enough to let family members in the nursery without becoming anxious, allow visitors one or two at a time. Hold a puppy so the puppy is between you and the mother dog. If you turn your back, she’s more likely to get up from her litter to come around and see what you’re doing. Bringing her a food snack tells her you’re not up to mischief. Respect her desire to protect her young ones and she’ll be more than happy to share them with you in a few weeks.
- Canine Behavior: Insights and Answers; Bonnie V. Beaver
- Royal Canin: Maternal Behavior
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