This post is dedicated for those of you that are in search of a new puppy. It’s important to read this post before you buy a new puppy so that you will be better educated about their essential socialization needs. This post is also perfect for those of you that have just brought your new puppy home. I think this post will really help you understand each stage in your puppies life, and the importance of each stage.
For most puppies, many people recommend releasing them to go home to a family at around 7-9 weeks of age. In my opinion, this is quite correct. HOWEVER, for small toy breed dogs, I highly suggest not bringing a puppy home before 12 weeks of age. When small toy breed puppies leave their mothers too soon, they are more prone to health complications and hypoglycemia. The bodies and immune systems of toy breed puppies are just too weak if they are released from their mothers too soon. I’m not saying that your toy breed puppy absolutely won’t survive if they leave their mothers earlier than 12 weeks, however, I think you place a higher risk of endangering your puppies health.
Now, back to the general case. If you do release your dogs too late from their mother, your puppy may experience behavior problems. Between 7-9 weeks of age, your puppies neurological senses are complete, and it’s at this point in their lives that they can really start to develop a bond with their owner. If they leave at a later age, your puppy may experience a tougher time building a bond with you. Some risks of leaving a mother too late include:
1. Being too dog oriented
2. The puppy may not care much about people
3. The puppy may be tougher to teach and accept responsibility
4. Training may become more difficult.
THE WEANING PERIOD: WEEKS 3-7
At this age, your puppy is starting to learn dog behavior. Its at this age that your puppy learns how to be a dog. The mother plays a large role in this stage. The mother will teach your puppy bite inhibition. Meaning, if your puppy starts to nip too hard, the mother will usually let out a growl, snarl, or even snap at the puppy. These are all parts of learning process that every puppy goes through. Your puppy will also learn bite inhibition from playing with their litter mates. When a puppy is playing with a fellow litter mate, you will likely hear yelps and screams while the puppies are playing. This is perfectly normal and part of the learning process which teaches your puppy not to bite so hard. This stage in your puppies life is very important. Never buy a dog from a breeder that releases puppies before 7 weeks of age. Again, if you are looking for a toy breed dog, I would not take your puppy home until they are 10-12 weeks of age. Taking your puppy home too early can cause future complications such as:
1. Aggression towards other dogs
2. Difficulty house training
3. Separation anxiety
4. Excessive barking
5. Biting the owner
7. An unhealthy attachment to humans
SUDDENLY YOUR PUPPY IS AFRAID: 8-12 WEEKS
During this stage in you puppies life, any sort of frightening or traumatic experience will leave a more lasting impression on your puppy. This stage is often referred to as the ‘fear imprint period’. If you can, try to avoid any sort of traumatic or scary experiences during this age. If at all possible, try to avoid any major surgeries during this time such as ear cropping. Also, don’t try to pressure your puppy into a scary situation. If your puppy shows that they are not comfortable in a situation, don’t force them into it. Rather give them a treat and get their minds off of whatever is causing them discomfort. Usually a couple weeks after this stage in life, you will find that whatever used to scare them no longer bothers them.
BEYOND 12 WEEKS OF AGE
After 12 weeks of age, you may notice that your puppy no longer wants to come to you when you call. This is perfectly normal and a facet of your dog trying to explore the world and their surroundings. I know it can get quite annoying, but with the proper training and patience, you can easily overcome this trait. You’ll want to practice calling your puppy in your house, backyard, or a more confined area. Limiting their space will make the training easier. Remember, the longer you go on without training your dog to come, the harder it will be to break the habit. Also keep mind to NEVER chase after your puppy when you are trying to train them to come. This automatically makes your puppy think that you are playing a game with them. If anything, run away from your puppy. When they come to you, offer a treat as a reward.
During this stage in your puppies life, they will go through a chewing process. If you leave your shoes and slippers on the floor, your puppy will most likely end up chewing on them. The solution to this? Keep anything you don’t want your puppy to chew on out of their reach. You can also get them rubber bones and chew toys to gnaw on rather than your new pair of pumps.
Hopefully this gives you a much better idea of how your puppy progresses through each stage in the beginning stages of their life. Understanding what your puppy goes through should hopefully help you train your puppy in a more effective and efficient manner. Also be sure to check our section dedicated to essential puppy accessories.