When Can My New Puppy Leave His Mum

Sometimes, either through ignorance on the part of the breeder, or circumstances such as the bitch dying, puppies are taken from their natural mother too early.

The ideal age for a pup to leave his mum is between seven to nine weeks, which is the crucial man-bonding time. Leaving mum and his litter brothers and sisters before this time means that he misses out on vital parts of his formative education and development.

The bitch teaches her pups what behaviour is acceptable, by admonishing them very firmly when they step out of line. She shows them, by example, how to interact with humans, what to be wary of and what things and situations are harmless.

Leaving his litter brothers and sisters too soon, he will not have completed learning the rules of behaviour when encountering other dogs. By play fighting in the litter, he learns how to moderate his behaviour so as not to cause discomfort, by experiencing early on what over-boisterous behaviour provokes in his litter mates.

He learns the correct postures and signals to use when encountering another dog. If this learning is curtailed by leaving the litter before seven weeks old, he will not recognise these signals when he meets his first strange dog and may react in an aggressive fashion. Likewise,because he will be giving out confusing signals to the strange dog, that dog may act aggressively, because he is confused by the behaviour he is encountering.

This particularly applies when pups are orphaned at birth and hand-reared by humans. They tend to form a very deep attachment to the person who rears them, which in turn can lead to the pup being very possessive towards people. Not having had the benefit of another canine’s teaching in proper dog behaviour, they are inclined to feel antagonistic towards other dogs, and will always relate closer to humans, perhaps finding other dogs a threat to that human relationship.

The reverse can happen if the pup stays with his mum too long, i.e. beyond nine weeks. Because he remains in a dog-oriented environment beyond the man-bonding time, he will relate more easily with dogs than with people, resulting in him being uneasy in human company, which could show itself as either very nervous behaviour or in displays of aggression.

If any of the above applies to your dog, you must pay great attention to socialising him, being scrupulously clear with your correction and reward. It would be very helpful if you could befriend someone who has a docile female dog, as she can help with showing your dog, in canine language, what behaviour is acceptable. Joining a dog training club could well help with finding a suitable companion for this purpose.

You may never achieve complete success in your attempts to mix your dog with other dogs and people, but you should achieve a level at which your dog can co-exist with both.

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One comment

  • physical therapist

    nice post. thanks.

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