Young puppies leaving their mothers too early can have serious consequences as the pups gain maturity. We have stated a number of times that puppies should not be taken away from their mothers before eight weeks of age, but why? Remember, dogs age quickly. Within only 14 days of life, puppies enter what is called the Transitional Stage whereby the pups move from being infants to toddlers. Within two to three weeks their eyes open and teeth may start to form as they enter the world of new sights, sounds, smells and tastes. But what happens then?
All puppies age and mature at their own rate, but soon after the pups will start to play with littermates to socialize, learn canine behaviors and play dominance games. As this evolves, mother dogs will become more strict in discipline to show proper canine rules and boundaries. Nearly all moves by the mothers are instructions showing encouragement but, also, limitations and proper canine behaviors. The foundations starts for positive understanding and attitudes towards other dogs and, hopefully, towards people if they are being properly socialized. If denied this early time with their mothers and siblings and they are not lucky enough to have humans or other well-adjusted dogs help them, they later into maturity can have the potential to become anti-social, maladjusted, fearful, shy, emotionally disturbed or even aggressive and may even bite.
By the fourth week, the pups have grown rapidly, their teeth are emerging and they have started eating semisolid blends of cottage cheese and high-quality canned meat or puppy kibble softened with warm water or milk. As you are offering the pups this food, the mother dogs start to wean them as well.
Summary: To have healthy, well balanced dogs, it is critically important for puppies to have the right kind of social and disciplinary experiences. This starts first with the stabilizing security of the mother dogs plus the littermates. Some animals are born with the ability to leave their mothers right away. But puppies are somewhat like human babies and need to be taught. Through licking and discipline, the mother dogs gradually allow the puppies to learn about an unknown world. The pup’s littermates also are critically important. What may be observed as silly play between them is the starting foundations of importnat canine socializing critically needed as dogs mature. It becomes your job to continue the proper care and socializing of your puppies as they become part of your family. Read my series of articles on “Puppies”. Your comments are welcome and appreciated.