The time newborn puppies spend with their mothers -- and also their littermates -- is crucial on so many different levels, from receiving the proper nourishment to learning necessary social skills for the future. Never rush separating a mother from her young puppy.
Length of Time
To ensure the emergence of happy, healthy and successful adult canines, puppies should remain alongside their mother dogs until they reach between 8 and 10 weeks old, advises ASPCA Professional. This time frame also applies to the littermates. Playtime with the siblings is key to proper puppy development.
If puppies for any reason have been separated from their mothers before finishing weaning, then it is necessary for their new caretakers to immediately begin bottle-feeding them using puppy formula purchased from a pet supplies retailer. Puppies, for the most part, are ready to start eating solid foods on a full-time basis once they're around 7 weeks old, notes The Merck Veterinary Manual. It is important for puppies to stay with their mothers at least until they are all through with weaning. However, in certain situations, that may not be realistic -- such as in the event of the mother dog's illness.
When puppies stay with their mother and littermates for a minimum of between 8 and 10 weeks, they have sufficient time to develop a strong foundation of social skills. In regular playing with their siblings, puppies receive an important education on life in the canine "real world." They learn when too much is too much, whether with pouncing, biting or chasing. They fine-tune the technique of playing around without allowing it to hurt the other party. They gain an understanding of how to send messages to other dogs -- and how to decode them too. They develop patience and problem-solving skills. All of these are useful tools that are integral for positive doggie relationships later on down the line.
Too Much Time With Mom
Although it is important for puppies to not be separated prematurely from their mamas, it is also important for the little ones not to stay around for too much time, either. If a puppy remains with his littermates and mother for more than three months, for example, he may not develop the desire to establish lasting relationships with human beings. By being with fellow dogs for lengthy periods of time, puppies may be much more interested in interactions with other canines than people.
- East Bay SPCA: Puppy Fostering
- ASPCA Pro: Bringing Up Baby - Socialization for Puppies
- ASPCA Complete Guide to Dogs; Sheldon L. Gerstenfeld
- SPCA New Zealand: Caring for Your Puppy
- The Humane Society of the United States: Puppy Behavior Basics
- The Merck Veterinary Manual: Social Behavior of Dogs
- ASPCA: Socializing Your Puppy
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