The True Cost Of Early Removal Of A Puppy From Its Mother And Litter Mates

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I am frequently asked “I am about to bring home my first Husky puppy. What do I need to know?” Actually there is something that you need to know even before your puppy leaves the breeder’s facility. What you need to know that your puppy should never leave its mother and litter mates before they are at least 8 weeks of age.

It frustrates me to read a behaviour related question, to then find out that the dog was allowed to be removed from the mother and siblings before the age of 8 or 9 weeks old. Releasing a puppy too early has no benefits for the puppy and can cause a host of sometimes irreversible emotional and behaviour problems in dogs. This practice will only serve to harm your dog and make your job as the owner of this dog unnecessarily difficult.

The only benefit for releasing a puppy before the age of 8 or 9 weeks will be for the breeder of this dog in the form of reduced costs associated with keeping the puppy for additional two or three weeks.

Why Do Breeders Do This If It Is Not Good For The Puppy?

Unless it is a true emergency (death of the mother or extreme illness of the puppy), any breeder that releases a puppy too early is doing so from either extreme ignorance, irresponsibility, or greed. Sadly, I am noticing a growing trend among people taking ownership of their puppy at the age of only 5 or 6 weeks of age because the breeder insists on it, the owners don’t know enough not to do this, or sometimes it is the new owners themselves who refuse to wait for the full 8 or 9 weeks before taking possession of their puppy.

Uninformed and unscrupulous breeders adhere to this practice so they won’t have to put effort into dealing with the now more mobile puppies and so they can save on food costs related to these growing puppies. They do this without ever giving a second thought about what is in the best interest of the puppy and how their decision will go on to impact you, the owner of this puppy.

Impatient or uniformed owners do this due to not taking the time to become knowledgeable about this issue. This is true for all dogs, not just snow dogs.

Buyer Beware

Please, don’t wait for the breeder do to what is best for your puppy. Arm yourself ahead of time with information regarding this issue. Ask your breeder what his policy is on this issue before you enter into a binding contract with them and then make sure the release date appears in writing in the contract. If a breeder won’t agree to keeping a puppy until he is 8 or 9 weeks of age, then walk away.

Additionally, if the mother of the puppies is no longer on site to interact with the puppies after the puppies are weaned, walk away. The reason for this will be further explained later in this article.

No matter how much of a “great deal” you think that you are getting with this puppy, no matter how badly you want this dog, getting a dog that begins his life potentially predisposed to psychological, behavioural, and emotional issues are quickly going to turn your dream dog into an ongoing nightmare that you will be forced to re-live daily.

Emotionally Immature Puppies Are A Lot Like Three Year Old Children

Nearly every time I am asked for behavioural help for a puppy who is showing difficulty adapting to his new environment, the most prevalent reason for the dog’s difficulty, even when the new owners are doing everything correctly, is that the puppy was removed from the mother and his litter mates too early.

To help you to understand the gravity of this situation, relate it as if we were speaking about a 3 year old child. Removing a puppy too soon from their family unit is the doggy equivalent of taking a 3 year old child and sending him off to boarding school and expecting him to be able to cope emotionally and socially with the experience.

Sure, the now somewhat autonomous 3 year old child can now walk unaided, he can talk well enough to make his needs known, he can feed himself if you give him food, and he may even be able to tell you that he needs to go to the toilet but is this young child emotionally equipped to be on his own and away from the protection, support, and emotional nurturing of his mother and family unit all day long? The answer is no. And while a puppy is not a human child, a 5 or 6 week old puppy is not ready to leave the emotional support of his extended dog family either.

Emotional And Psychological Abandonment Has A Cost

Very young children who are denied the emotional support and guidance of the family unit go on to have all kinds of emotional and adaptational issues.

These children tend to be timid, fearful, less outgoing, have more than the usual number of fears and phobias, have fear relate sleep disorders, are irritable, anxious, are unable to self soothe, become easily frustrated and have trouble coping with normal frustrations, display inappropriate and unreasonable out bursts of angry behaviour, and are more likely to display dissociative and attachment disorders.

They also seem to have an above average likelihood of displaying, and struggling with, socially unacceptable behaviours when it comes to their peer interactions. Puppies that are removed too early from their litters eerily mimic these very same behavioural and emotional issues displayed by these young children.

While we should avoid trying to humanize dogs, the truth remains, that the basic primal social and emotional needs of the pack oriented canid are not that different from the basic primal physical and emotional requirements of human beings.

A Hierarchy Of Needs

As Abraham Maslow pointed out in his theory of the Hierarchy of Needs, complex living organisms have an inherent basic hierarchy of needs (physical and emotional) that must be met if the being is to physically survive and then go on to thrive. The most basic physical primal needs are physiological (air, food, water etc.) and then there is a need for physical safety (shelter from the elements and someone to physically administer care to those unable to care for themselves.)

The more advanced higher needs for Love and Belonging, while not so much of a primal physical need, are emotional needs. Animals (human included) that live in societal communities, in order to feel emotionally secure, must have these two emotional needs also met or it causes the being to be insecure, emotionally unbalanced, and unstable.

Just as a young child needs the comfort and security of being with, and belonging to his family unit, so does a very young puppy need the security of being with, and belonging to, his extended family unit.

The Rules Of Society

Learning the rules as they pertain to our societies, constitutes part of our evolutionary transformation as we move from childhood, to adolescence, and then to adulthood. The rules for knowing how to orient ourselves in our social circles is taught by the other members of society. No human or puppy comes into the world knowing the rules that apply to his social group. These rules are mutable and reflect the unique circumstances of each particular group. The rules must be taught to the group members.

In humans, the first 5 or 6 years of life is spent not only physically looking after a child, but teaching the rules of being human and how to live (and survive) in the human society. The next 10 years of a human life is spent developing a social skills, social associations, and further understanding the complex social rules of human society. These are the necessary skills to learn to be able to transition to a well balanced and well functioning adult.

This human development is similar to the developmental stages in dogs, except in dogs, this process is accomplished in weeks, not months and years. Therefore, a week of development in a puppy’s life is the equivalent of several years of social and physical development in a human’s life.

Still think that releasing a puppy one to three weeks early is no big deal? Clearly, for the development and functioning of the puppy these few weeks are a huge deal.

The Five Stages And Transitions For Dog Development

Behavioural scientists and researchers for the most part agree that the five standard stages of dog development are as follows:

  1. The Neonatal Stage (birth – 2 weeks) – The puppies eat, sleep, pee and poop. There is no other social interaction at this stage.
  2. The Transitional Stage (2-3 weeks) – The puppies move from just eating and sleeping to become more aware of their surroundings as their eyes and ears open.
  3. The Socialisation Stage (3-13 weeks) – The puppies move from just eating and physical survival to interacting with the members of their society and learning the social rules of their society. *Overlap – The Critical Period (6-13 weeks) This is not a separate stage of development but a component of the Socialization Stage. But this period of development is so crucial to the development of social skills and to the dog’s understanding of key socialization elements that it merits its own mention. It is within this developmental stage that a dog’s potential as a companion animal is either fostered and nurtured or impeded and even destroyed. It is also within this stage that at least 50% (nurture vs. nature) of the dog’s eventual temperament is developed.
  4. Adolescence (13 weeks – 6 months) – The puppies are now autonomous but are still learning about the social complexities of their society. At this stage varying amounts of latitude are given for socially immature dogs displaying inappropriate social behaviours. Behaviour is corrected by the members of the society.
  5. Adulthood (begins at approximately 6 to 8 months old) – These are fully autonomous dogs that are required to know the rules of the society and operate within the parameters of these rules. Dogs that challenge the rules or don’t conform to the rules may be physically forced out of the group.

It is important to understand that transition from one stage to the next is gradual and not abrupt. The progressions are smooth and there is considerable overlapping of behaviours from stage to stage.

Crucial Puppy Social Development In Weeks 6 Through 8

During these two weeks, mother dogs with good instincts interact with their pups very differently than before. The puppies are no long nursing as they are now eating solid food. Mom’s job at this point has changed from physically nurturing the puppies to giving the puppies their first lessons in submission, compliance, social order, and social ranking.

Puppies that once climbed all over Mom, nibbled and chewed on her, and hung and swung from her ear by their teeth, are now physically shown that this behaviour is less tolerated. For the very first time in their lives the puppies have behavioural expectations placed onto them by a dog that out ranks them socially.

Mom As Disciplinarian And As Boss

At this stage, very attentive Moms can be seen flipping puppies over onto their backs and asking them to submit to her. The puppy is asked to submit and just lie there in submission for no other reason than, “Mom said so and Mom is the Boss.” This is the very first situation where puppies learn to deal with being asked to comply and submit. Up until now puppies did pretty much whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted to it.

Social Ranking As Established By Natural Temperament

It is also during these two weeks that the puppies’ natural temperament really begins to emerge.

Some puppies are more naturally confident and pushy. These are the puppies shoving other more timid dogs away from the food and taking the lion’s share for themselves. These dogs are found sleeping in the best and most choice sleeping spots. These dogs are the ones that will come up and physically wrestle a toy away from a less dominant puppy.

Some puppies are less confident, less pushy, and soon learn that other more dominant puppies will socially outrank them and at times, dominate them. These dogs have to learn how to deal with the frustration of being challenged by a more dominant force.

These kinds of social hierarchy interactions with litter mates are crucial building blocks for a dog to be able to understand the complexities of social hierarchy, rank, and order. Without these experiential social opportunities to learn appropriate social behaviour, a dog enters adolescence and adulthood devoid of necessary and crucial social skills training.

And sadly, dogs that have been removed from their family unit before they are 8 weeks old, these socially immature dogs go on to be the dogs that are involved in most of the social skirmishes at the dog park, at doggy day care, and in one-on-one chance dog encounters. These poor dogs don’t stand a chance in social situations because they are clueless about what appropriate and polite social dog behaviour should look like. They never had a chance to see it modeled by their mother or their siblings and they never had a chance to practice modelling these behaviours themselves.

These dogs know nothing about calming signals. They don’t know how to read calming signals given by other others so these dogs are constantly under reacting or over reacting to other dogs. They also cannot give calming signals so other dogs find them their behaviour and reactions both baffling and irritating.

As you can easily see, most of the social rules are taught and reinforced by mother dogs on weeks 6 through 8, so the consequences of removing puppies from their litter mates and mothers too early are both far reaching and impactful.

And since companion dogs will be constantly required to submit, comply, and interact with humans and other dogs for the rest of their natural lives, intentionally or inadvertently (through ignorance) creating a puppy that is likely to be socially and emotionally crippled just does not make sense nor does it benefit anyone.

Common Dog Behaviours And Problems Attributed To Early Removal

Here is a short list of common problems (physical, emotional, and social) exhibited by puppies and then later by mature dogs, who have been removed from their family units before the age of 8 weeks.

These puppies seem to have an inability to self soothe

They are anxious and never seem to be content. They whine, cry, and bark a lot. Many times they seem inconsolable even when given human attention. These puppies are the dogs that will continue to cry through the night long after the normal adaptation period has passed.

These dogs are quite likely to develop severe separation anxiety or minimally, they will hate being left alone. It is because they are unable to self soothe and because they become easily frustrated that they often resort to physical destruction of their environment as an outlet for their anxiety and frustration. These dogs are also at an increased risk of becoming self mutilators.

Housebreaking these puppies is challenging

As their bladders and bowels are still immature, trying to insist on regulating them is often frustrating and unsuccessful for both humans and dog. Once they get in the habit of eliminating in the house, it becomes much harder to get through the message of only pee and poop outside.

Owners place newspapers and pee pads down to help contain the mess but are only helping to teach and reinforce the message that elimination in doors is permissible. Remember, dogs, cannot generalize. Rules for them fall into one of two categories: ALWAYS or NEVER. If they are allowed to pee and poop sometimes, they interpret that to mean ALWAYS. Bringing your puppy home after they are 8 weeks old makes effective housebreaking not only easier, it makes it possible.

These puppies will often exhibit a myriad of psychological issues

They lack the confidence to handle new situations, people, and often are not able to have proper social interactions with other dogs because of crippling fears and phobias. Even when you take these dogs to obedience classes and give them socialization opportunities, these are the dogs that will become fear aggressive and be at an increased chance of becoming a fear biter. Often through constant management, these issues can be lessened but rarely are the issues completely eliminated.

These dogs often default to fear biting

They do not necessarily see this behaviour as being an offensive attack. In their minds they are defensively attacking other dogs. Their fear is so great that they preemptively launch an attack of one bite and then they retreat, hoping to drive off the other dog (or person). They melt down and are easily overwhelmed by anything new in their environment. These dogs are uncomfortable and just want to be left alone.

Because these dogs have gaps in their understanding of being able to read and model appropriate dog body language, they often are the cause of dog fights. They lack the knowledge behind giving and receiving the normal calming signals used by other more scholarly dogs. Interestingly, Mother dogs who did not get the benefit of being taught about calming signals by their mothers will not be able to pass this knowledge on to their own puppies creating yet another generation of dogs who have poor communications skills.

Not knowing what to expect from other the dogs causes these dogs to be constantly on guard and tense. Then other dogs react to the tense or fearful energy and body language displayed by these dogs. The owners of these unfortunate socially inept dogs are often at their wits end trying to teach their dogs how to become well socialized and how to be less stressed or terrified in social settings. Very often no amount of socialization training helps to make these dogs fully at ease in dog on dog encounters.

How You Can Prevent This From Happening To You

  • Education and correct information is always crucial to preventing a disaster from becoming your fate. Arm yourself with as much information as you can from a variety of up to date sources of information. Sadly, your Vet may not be the best source of information when it comes to issues of understanding the social learning and needs of dogs.
  • Do not allow yourself to become complacent and naively expect that all breeders will act in the best interest of you or your puppy. Sadly, there are breeders out there who are very low on ethics and whose bigger concern is the profit to be gained by selling their dogs to you.
  • Minimally, there are some breeders out there who lack the experience and information to be good knowledgeable breeders. Ignorance really is a weak excuse for producing a poor genetic product. If they are responsible for creating a living creature then they should also take the personal responsibility to make sure that they are up to date on current and accurate information regarding the practice of creating healthy and well-adjusted puppies. Breeding dogs needs to about more than that just tossing two dogs together so they can pro-create and then selling puppies as a product of procreation.
  • By taking the responsibility to arm yourself with information you can recognize sound breeding practices and know what questions to ask thereby increasing your chances of being able to spot a bad breeder. Not all breeders are bad. There are ethical well informed dog breeders out there too. You just have to know enough information to be able to spot the difference.
  • And finally, don’t buy puppies, sight unseen, from breeders that advertise over the internet or from newspaper or magazine ads. From behind the anonymity of a computer screen or telephone people can represent themselves in any way that they want. The only way to be sure that a breeder has good breeding practices is to be able to see the facility and the dogs for yourself.

With an appointment, you should be able to a visit a good quality breeder’s facility. If a breeder makes constant excuses as to why you cannot visit them, walk away from the deal. If you insist on doing business with a person like this, you, and your poorly bred puppy will surely be paying the price for this choice for a long time to come.

When visiting a breeder’s facility the puppies should be on the premises, ideally living in the house with the people. The parent dogs should be there too, but especially the mother of the pups. If the mother is no longer with the pups after they have been weaned, you are at in increased risk of ending up with a puppy who is missing crucial social development. If a facility has many breeding dogs with litters on the ground, walk away. If a breeding facility has many different breeds of dogs, all with litters on the ground, walk away. If dogs are kept in dirty and overcrowded conditions, walk away.

These situations all have the tell-tale signs of it being puppy mill. Puppies that come from this kind of breeding situation will be not only be poor genetic examples of the breed but they will arrive sick and infested with parasites from living in dirty and unhealthy conditions. If you buy from a dog from a breeder after seeing these conditions you had better be prepared to spend a lot more money on Vet bills because trying to bring these dogs back to a state of good healthy, if at all possible, is a costly affair. Save yourself the anguish and the money. Just don’t buy puppies from questionable sources.

It is my most fond wish that we educate all Snow Dog owners and all potential Snow Dog owners so that no person finds themselves in the awful position of becoming the unwitting owner of one of these unfortunate dogs. Please, do your homework first before agreeing to purchase a dog from a breeder. Know what constitutes good breeding practices. And know not to accept ownership of a puppy before it at least 8 weeks old.

As always we welcome your questions and comment regarding this issue. Please share your stories with us because when we share our wisdom we may well be helping someone who is struggling with their Snow Dog.

Helping All Snow Dogs …. one owner at a time.

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46 Comments

  1. dangelique717 on

    After reading this im so worried. I just got my first puppy and he is only gonna be 7 weeks old. I had no idea what so ever that he wasnt supposed to leave. I feel so bad now. I do realize he is very young so i have been trying to comfort and show him physical affection as much as possible but now im worried. Myself and my husband are gonna be getting a dog behavioralist is this something he could help with. P.s . have 2 yr old son and 4 month old daugher.should i be worried about them in the future

    • Dangelque717, I just saw your post so it’s been a couple months. You said you plan to get a behaviorist. Even if you have already chosen one please, please check their training and credentials, certifications. I adopted a shelter dog and the shelter recommended a behaviorist. When she arrived I realized almost immediately that the only thing that made her a behaviorist was the word “Behaviorist” printed on her business card. I had experience and training with a top notch humane society and certified behaviorists so I was able to see that many of her skills and techniques were counterproductive. I do not say this just to scare you or make you feel worse. I’ve always gone with a gut feeling that if you feel uncomfortable doing something to or with your dog (child, etc) then maybe you shouldn’t do it. At least not until you can thoroughly research from outside resources. And lastly just because you got your puppy so early I don’t think it means 100 percent that he will have major problems. Heck we all have some problems from our childhood.

    • You do realize not everything posted on the internet is actually the truth,right? I’m sure your puppy will be just fine. This is prob just her personal opinion. Anyone can write there experience, but it doesn’t Mean it’s going to happen to every person every dog .

      • Walda Caulkins on

        Thank you for stating that. I have always gotten puppies, when they were at least 6-7 weeks old. NONE OF THESE PUPPIES, ever had any of the issues in her article.

        I have taken in and fostered Puppies and dogs of various ages, and they have always gotten along just fine, turning into one big, happy furry, four-legged family.

  2. My malamute was a private rescue at 4-5 weeks. She’s not a problem at all with the house-training, or self-soothing etc. The only issue with her has been that after she was attacked as a little over a year old (unpreventable, dog that attacked her showed no signs of aggression, but tried to rip her throat out after bowling her over on her back) has been now she attempts to push other dogs away before they can hurt her. I’ve taken to distracting her when around other dogs by making her sit, even if she is huffing and barking at them, and keeping her in that position until she quietens down before walking off – as soon as she is quiet, she gets some praise, so she knows that’s the behavior I want. This has worked, as today on our walk, she saw four dogs. Two she ignored, one she huffed at then carried on walking…it was the last dog that she had a hissy fit over…and that was because the owner allowed it real close to her, despite me saying that after she’d been attacked, she’s no good with strange dogs.

  3. CriticalThinker on

    Can you please tell me where you got your information? I did not see any references or research. Is this your opinion, or based off research? Very interesting read.

  4. Im buying my first Husky pup, a friend of mines has her husky pregnant and will give birth sometime in december, thank God i came across this article, it was very helpfull and ill take every step from this to raise the pup. ill take the pup once it hits 8 weeks.

  5. I purchased a Husky @ 6.5 weeks of age; admittedly I did question the breeder/seller if this was premature. However, I live in Thailand the land of smiles (more like land of greed) but she seems very well adjusted and I did everything I could to make her transition as easy as possible; such as sleeping in our bedroom until 8 weeks of age and a few things like that. I have her sitting, coming when she’s called and a few other things but I’m still having trouble with two issues: i) Peeing anywhere (she ‘number 2’s’ on newspaper inside every time now) she sleeps inside on the tiled floor over night so the clean up is an easy job. – I’m unsure if this is bladder control, the Husky excite excretion, simply not comprehending my training request or just her age? She always goes after sleeping where ever, a number of times has pee’d on the newspaper (hen placed there) but doesn’t seem to ‘get’ my request while alone? It seems total random or not marking. ii) She is still mouthing and probably could be view as biting hands/legs/feet in excitement (playing and alike) but she loves human company. She is a beautiful animal and while we’ve had our ups and downs in trainability we are progressing – she hates being washed with a passion but, I think the last bath I saw the light switch turn on that it isn’t so bad after all! Following many arguments while becoming refreshed. I’d love some help for my training to improve as seeing a professional trainer here is not possible with the language barrier + not even sure if they have K9 training here? TNX

  6. Michael Underwood on

    Thank you for this very informative article.
    Unfortunately, due to the breeder claiming housing issues (stating that the home they were renting had been sold out from under them so they were essentially homeless trying to find a new place just as the pups were born,) we ended up getting our Husky at 5 weeks. he is showing a few of the symptoms you listed on the page but not all of them.
    The idea of returning him is heartbreaking as we have already bonded with him deeply and he seems to have bonded with us as well.
    The only real issue we have been experiencing is biting inhibition. We are working on that one. (I saw your article on that and will be using those techniques)

    Where I am going with this is the following.
    Your article is excellent for what to watch out for and how to proceed before you get a pup. And before we get another one I will review and follow the guidelines you list as they make perfect sense.

    My question is…what if you already have one. Our boy is 14 weeks old tomorrow. We have him in puppy training classes and he seems to be doing well in them though there have only been two sessions. The vet says we can’t really start socializing him with others until he has had his 3rd set of shots including rabies. That’s not happening for another two weeks.
    What if any suggestions can you make for us to work with our little guy and help him adapt as much as we can to provide a stable loving home for him and to make our experience with him less stressful all around.

  7. Mike Storms on

    Thank you for the very informative article. Where can I get information about how to raise a puppy that was removed from its mother too early? Many of the comments are from pet owners who, for one reason or another, have ended up with puppies who were removed from their mothers before 8-9 weeks. We’re in the same situation–someone gave us a puppy as a gift, who had been removed from it’s mother at 6 weeks. What can we do to help the puppy grow up without the problems you described?

  8. Tara Puckett on

    I got my puppy a day short of 5 weeks. He is now 6 years old. And a pitbull, no less. I have NEVER had a problem with him. He never tried to bite anyone, is always loving and swetsweet to people, babies, kids, and other dogs. Just because yoh think it’s ddetrimental, it’s not the case with every puppy out there, as you made this ppaper out to be.

  9. Heidi Waite on

    I just bought a Boston Terrier puppy. We did visit the site when the puppy was 3 1/2 weeks old. The breeder did have several other dogs, but no real alarms went off. She also said that she was going to introduce canned food the next day. Later, her story changed to that she weaned them at 3 weeks because Mama was snapping at them.
    The original understanding was that we couldn’t have him until 8 weeks. Gradually, that age decreased to finally wanting them gone at 6 weeks.
    When we picked him up, we were horrified to see a 12 week old litter of Boston Terrier puppies outside, as well as litters of other breeds, playing in a cold dirt pen, with one coop for all to share.
    Inside, she had a 4 wk old litter of another breed, sleeping with my puppies sibling. Another sibling left b4 6 wks. Mine was curled up alone on the floor. Mama was nowhere to be seen.
    I was only given a shot record, despite asking for actual medical and delivery records.
    We thought we were getting a great deal on a Boston Terrier puppy. Normally $800-1200, this one cost $500. While full breed, they have no papers, which doesn’t matter, as we intend to neuter him asap. We’re now worried about the extra medical costs we will have.
    This article is very informative and important for all pet owners to read. I’d like to send this to her, but I am sure she’s aware. It all seems to be about the money for this breeder. Shame on her!

  10. I got a dog and I have had her for a year. She ended up pregnant. She gave birth on Thanksgiving 2015. The problem is the article made a lot of sense. I now realize that i recieved her before she learned those valuable social skills. Is there anything i can do so that my puppies do not have those same problems?? They obviously can not learn the appropriate social behaviors from their mom.

  11. I’m sorry to say I brought a husky puppy after the tragic loss of my previous elderly dog. The husky puppy I brought was 5 weeks old at the time, and I hardly slept the first week I had her, making sure she wasn’t getting into trouble, she came out with me in a little carry case I had made for her, I never let her out of my sight, and more importantly I started her training early, and she was socialised almost straight away. She is 2 now and she is fully traine and she has been on holiday with us a few times and always settles down with us. So I do believe it depends on the dog and environment, because to me, I’ve won the dog lottery and got the best dog in the world, she has a lovely temperament, loves to play with other dogs and humans, and loves her cuddle times and belly rubs, and I had her at 5 weeks. X

  12. I have a 4.5mo Sib Husky who was brought to us at 6 weeks from a “friend of a friend”. The breeder was in a situation w his house and, long story short, we unwittingly got this dog too early. She is showing pretty much all of these alarming behaviors. Two behaviorists have expressed alarm w her fear-aggression at her young age. We have young children. We love her so dearly but I’m concerned for my kids safety, their friends, etc.

    Is there hope for rehabbing a dog like this?

    We are distraught.

    • We had the same issue with our dog. Dog behaviour experts advised us to put the dog last behind our children so the dog knew. i.e. Feed the dog last. Open the door and kids (and us) go in before dog does. He then learns the pecking order is owners, then children and he/she is on the bottom. It stopped all the aggression towards our children when the dogs previous order he thought was owners, dog then children. Just feeding the dog after we had all eaten was a significant change to his behaviour and so easy to do. We were telling the dog that he was below our kids by feeding him last and he just adjusted to it almost straight away. In a pack apparently thats what they do too they eat in pack order. I hope this helps you it certainly helped us.

  13. Hey friend

    Its a very informative blog and I really like the way you have explained the things.
    I do have a very cute jack russell and its never happened that he create nuisance.
    Great blog and really looking for more informative blogs. 🙂

  14. I got my female pit bull puppy at 2 weeks old. We ran across a homeless couple who had been told they could not stay in a shelter with the momma and 7 babies. They we’re only allowed to keep the mom, but had to get rid of the 7 puppies. For the most part, she has been a awesome puppy so far at only 6.5 weeks. She potties outside and on the pee pad when she can’t wait for us to take her out. There is only one small issue we have had a couple times and that’s her attitude a couple times. She has snarelled and snapped at me and my husband a couple times which has worried my husband do to the breed she is. I am just firm with her and tell her no to let her know it’s not OK, then put her in her kennel. I am just hoping you or anyone else has some helpful tips on how to raise her up right, since she was forced away from mom so early? Also how many times a day should she eat? She definitely isn’t lacking, but I don’t want to over feed either. Thank

  15. I need direction. Yes the authorities are involved trying to locate the people who sold pit bull puppies at 2 DAYS old. I am fostering one of these babies and I am aware of the problems that can arise. She is now 2 weeks and 4 days old. I can not find anything that helps me to help her with potential problems. How do I teach her “Dog Talk”? There is a 12 year old Shilo Shepard in our home and she is very gentle. Can she help teach the puppy? Thank you!!!!

  16. I got my dog at exactly 3 weeks old because I was afraid the owner of the bitch would toss them away before they were old enough. Admittedly, I had a lot of problems that arose due to that. I couldn’t leave his sight because he would cry non-stop even if other familiar faces were around him, which led to unimaginable seperation anxiety up until he turned roughly 6 to 7 months old. His social skills were awful because I couldn’t find enough stable dogs in my town I could introduce him to, which led to over-excitement when he saw a dog and great anxiety which caused him to hump males and females only because he didn’t know what to do and how to act.
    Half year later, after I moved into a city and found enough dogs, we got into training and he started showing calming signals when meeting any dog, agression where needed (such as when confronted by another male), grownling when another dog annoyed him, playful stances that he didn’t know before, and stopped humping as well.
    Now, he’s a decently trained dog that doesn’t pick fights but his confidence had grown and he feels more sure with himself and his ablities when another male confronts him. He’s nearing two years old now, and I’m more than happy for his proccess. He even listens to me when a female is in heat around and leave from a dispute with a dog after my command.
    Lastly, I wrote this this so people who somehow end up with a premature puppy know what is waiting for them. It’s no way easy to raise a puppy from 3 weeks until adolthood and not have any problems show up. If your puppy if too young, care for it with pre-caution and do the best you can in sense of training what his mother was supposed to teach him. Look for any possible problems from early on so that overcoming them will be much easier for both of you. But if you have the luxury of chance, leave the mother do the work for you by letting the puppy with her for a week or two more.

  17. I am picking up my Golden Retriever puppy in the coming days and one vet adviced me that the puppy should take his first round of vaccinations at his place of birth and prior to leaving his mother and liter .. is this true ? cause other vets don’t agree .. please advice me ..

  18. I have a litter of shih-poo pups that are 7 weeks old. I had a lady who wanted two of the puppies. The problem was she wanted them at 4 weeks old. She told me she had experience raising a litter of puppies whose mother had died. I told her I was sorry but regardless of how much experience she had I was not going to let the puppies go at the age. If a litter is orphaned it’s a totally different situation. Apparently she didn’t like my answer because I never heard from her again and that is fine with me.

  19. Our pup was let go at 6 weeks. We questioned the breeder who assured us it wasn’t too soon. She has horrible separation anxiety. She cries whenever we leave the house, even if we’re just gone a few minutes to get the mail. House training was extremely difficult; however, we’ve pretty much got that under control now. But she is nearly a year old now too. She still mouths like a young puppy would and she doesn’t sleep well either. She will only sleep in her crate or our bed. She doesn’t seem able to lay down on the floor or couch for a nap. She is also very restless and paces the house frequently. I wish we had been more persistent with the breeder. We’ve had puppies before, but two were 9 weeks when we got them and one was 12 weeks. All good dogs.

  20. I have a terrier mix rescue dog from a Missouri puppy mill, separated at about 7 weeks. I had to become the mother and try to place age-appropriate boundaries for him, and it has been a serious consistent effort to get him through to adolescence. Fortunately for the both of us, we are runners. A daily 2 mile run calms him, focuses him, and endears himself closer to me.There can be only one leader on an outback trail run or someone gets tripped or hurt. And he has learned to take my pace and body cues like a champ! Yes, it is clear this pup was separated from mother too early. And yes, it takes a lot of work and consistency to bring a dog like this into a good adult behavior pattern. But never forget that they want to belong to the pack and abide by the leader’s rules. They live for this.

  21. Puppies early removal actually a very bad idea and so hurt too. If this happens there have chance to reverse and bad reaction. Like your post, it’s really helpful. Thank you.

  22. Kristin Stewart on

    Thank you for this article. Sadly, I purchased a baby chihuahua about four days ago. I have only had one puppy before this and from the picture I thought she appeared the 6 weeks they claimed her to be (which unfortunately someone had told me is the earliest age they can leave mom). They brought us the dog saying they were selling it for their mom. After they left it only took about an hour for us to realize the dog must be closer to 3 weeks old. I sincerely do not want to take this pup back to those irresponsoble people, I do not trust them. But I have been researching how to take care of ‘orphaned’ puppies and I am concerned for the upcoming weeks when she should be learning how to interact with other pups. Is there anything I can do? Thanks for any advice.

  23. Great article. I may have 2 puppies that were separated at 6 weeks … litter mates, girls. And they ‘ran’ away 3 weeks ago at about 12 weeks … I was working on socialization skills and appropriate behavior.

    Thank you!

    Wayne

  24. sandra reichert on

    I am a breeder and agree with no sooner than 8 wks but the issue I have with article is reasons to walk away [ must be raised in home] Many quality breeders have awesome facilities also moms like their privacy in the first couple wks. important to bring pups in home for many reasons but not necessary be raised in home

  25. I got my people at 8 weeks through the spca.. She was fostered by a family along with her sister from birth. Her mom died while given birth and the ownwer turned 4 of the 5 puppies over to the spca because they didnt know how to care for them. The fifth puppy died in the birth canal. My dog is 6 months now and she is so clingy..and demands attention at all times..My husband and I can not enjoy a movie or dinner at home without her whinning and barking for attention. She only calms down when one of us is touching her.. Do you think that this is caused by the fact that she never had time with her mother? How can i fix this?

  26. Is it okay to take my pitbull puppy from its mom at 8 weeks, I have read your article it’s very good..My previous pitbull puppy i took from its mom at 1 month old she had a lot of the problems you talk about, she passed away at 4 year, s old. She will always be in my heart. This puppy pitbull I just got is 3months old very sweet dog.Any suggestions will be good thank you..

  27. Thank you for a great article! My husband and I were *this close* to bringing home a 5 week old puppy tonight. On our way to the ATM I had a chance to do a little bit of research on the subject and am so glad I did. I saw the true colors of the seller, too, who was pretty cranky when we said, “She’s too young, call us in three weeks if she’s still available.” They were obviously more interested in the money over their puppy’s health and well-being. But someone else will likely take this puppy in the next couple days, continuing a cycle of ignorance and overlooking the needs of these animals. It’s very sad!

  28. Our puppy was taken away at 2 weeks and we rescued her at 5 months. We are going through all of the issues you mentioned..I really don’t know what to do. We are prepared to live with her for the rest of her life as we are aware no one could handle her. We have two other well behaved dogs that were raised properly and they do help her a bit..but she is so messed up (anxious, throws tantrums, suspicious of anything we do, destroys things, eats everything etc) Any suggestions or hope for her? I don’t want to put her on meds and I’ve had dogs my whole life and know how o train them..I just wish I knew if it would ever get better?..

  29. I have a question. I was ignorant and brought a puppy home before 8 weeks. I want to give her a chance to be a normal and happy puppy so I’m taking her back. She’ll have been separated from her mom 4 days when we give her back. Will she still have a chance?

  30. What a load of nonsense!! It beggars believe somebody can make such sweeping statements, especially drawing an analogy between the development of puppies and children. I am a child psychologist and the majority of “facts” described in this article and totally inaccurate. I have been a dog breeder as well with well over 40 years experience and naturally I agree the optimum time for a puppy to leave the litter is about 8 weeks. I stress ABOUT 8 weeks, a few days either way will not be detrimental to the puppies development, nor will it impede their ability to forge permanent relationships with people or other dogs.
    I have seen many troubled children in my career and am of the opinion that removing them from their original family unit, to be cared for in a loving substitute situation will in many cases have saved their life.
    this entire article id devoid of any references to research. If this kind of article is the passed of as a true picture of what people will expect, it is very poor information and I pity the mindless people that believe it.. Did anybody check this article for accuracy before it was posted on line? It shows clearly the danger of the internet.

  31. I took my puppy from his litter at 5 weeks old, and he is now 7 weeks old. He shows absolutely none of these signs claimed, he is already almost 100% peepad trained (will be moving tht to outside when he is ab 2months old). its an animal not a robot, its all about how you treat it and take care of it, if you keep him happy, play with him, maintain his needs, use a high tone for good things and deep tone for bad things he will learn the difference of right and wrong. although im experienced and have had dogs before him, for the people its new to; it’s really not that difficult once he has coped to his new home. Just never mistreat or neglect the animal

  32. So could you tell me your thought on a breeder separating the pups at 12 weeks? Do you think this is to old??

  33. I beg all of you to listen to these instructions. I ended up adopting a mix breed dog that was born from a stray and pulled from her mother and litter mates at a very young age. I got him at 12 weeks and the damage was already done. It has only worsened with age and no amount of training will help. This can cause permanent psychological damage to dogs. He is very fearfull of all dogs and strangers. He has shown signs of fear aggrrespionage since day 1. So much so that I had to leave puppy socialization classes due to his extreme fear. He was dealt a horrible hand at life and if you have the option of avoiding this, please do so.

  34. I have the opposite problem. I have a maltipoo, she is 2 or 3 yrs. old. She is a rescue. They told me she was a runner. Well every time I take her out side. She is frantic, and whimpers like she is crying. MY thought is, her puppies were taken from her, and she is looking for them. When she is in the house she is fine. Outside very upset dog. Is it possible to change her mind thought. This is very sad.

  35. Kayla Grant on

    Great article, unfortunately however I adopted a dog at 8 months only to find out later it had been sent away from its liter at 3 weeks. All my animals are rescues so dealing with the breeder directly isn’t how we came to adopt. Any Suggestions? He’s extremely sweet but noticeable difficult to train compared to the other dogs I have taken in. At 9 Months old he has the personality of a 4mo old puppy. He’s nippy, food guards, puppy guards, and unphased by correction. The only thing that seems to work is his love of food so I try to redirect a behavior and praise him and give him treats when he’s doing well. But even then he’s a challenge. At first I thought he was just a stubborn Husky but having trained other huskies I quickly realized their had to be more to the story.

  36. What a load of alarmist nonsense. Obviously around 8 weeks is ideal but over 6 weeks is fine. Dog behaviour is down to the training and treatment they receive. Proffering your opinions as fact is irresponsible and self indulgent.

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