Early removal of puppy from mother

Early removal of husky puppy

One of the most common questions we are asked is; “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 early removal of a puppy from the mother can cause major problems. Your puppy should never leave its mother and littermates before they are at least 8 weeks of age.

Huskies being removed from their mother early result in a large percentage of the behaviour related questions we receive. Releasing a husky puppy too early has no benefits for the puppy. It can cause a host of sometimes irreversible emotional and behaviour problems in dogs.

This practice only serves to harm your dog and make your job as the owner of this dog difficult.

The only benefit for removing a puppy from its mother early is for the breeder. The practice reduces costs associated with keeping the puppy for additional two or three weeks.

Why Do Breeders Allow Early Removal of 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 the practice of early removal of the puppy from its mother, 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 uninformed 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

Arm yourself ahead of time with information regarding this issue. Ask your breeder what his policy is on early removal of the husky puppy 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 doesn’t agree to keep a puppy until he is 8 or 9 weeks of age, then walk away.

Walk away if the mother of the puppies is no longer on-site to interact with the puppies. I will explain why later in this article.

Getting a puppy that has been removed early is predisposed to psychological and behavioural problems. No matter how badly you want the dog, you must be aware of this potential.

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 due to the early removal of the puppy from his 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. 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 husky 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. They become easily frustrated and have trouble coping with normal frustrations, display inappropriate and unreasonable outbursts 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 survive and then go on to thrive physically. 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 administer care to those unable to care for themselves physically.)

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, 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 other members of society teach the rules for knowing how to orient ourselves in our social circles. 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.

How Humans Differ

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 how to live (and survive) in human society. The next 10 years of human life is spent developing 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 husky puppy’s life is the equivalent of several years 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 other dogs and learning the social rules of their society. 
  4. The Critical Period (6-13 weeks) This is not a separate stage of development but a component of the Socialization Stage. This period of development is so crucial to the development of social skills; it merits its own mention. It is within this developmental stage that a dog’s potential as a companion animal is either fostered or impeded. It is also within this stage that at least 50% (nurture vs nature) of the dog’s eventual temperament is developed.
  5. 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—the members of the society correct behaviour.
  6. Adulthood (begins at approximately 6 to 8 months old). These are fully autonomous dogs that are required to know the rules of society. To 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 longer 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 outranks 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 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 littermates 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.

Long Term Social Problems

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 daycare, 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 modelled 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 overreacting 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 littermates 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 does not make sense nor does it benefit anyone.

Common Dog Behaviours And Problems Attributed To Early Removal

Here is a shortlist 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 the 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 indoors 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 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 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 are 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 well 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 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.

Visiting The Breeder

With an appointment, you should be able to 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 an increased risk of ending up with a puppy who is missing crucial social development.

When a facility has many breeding dogs with litters on the ground, walk away. Don’t move forward if a breeding facility has many different breeds of dogs, all with litters on the ground. If dogs are kept in dirty and overcrowded conditions, walk away.

Puppy Mills

These situations all have the tell-tale signs of it being a puppy mill. Puppies that come from this kind of breeding situation will 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 health, 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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  1. I got a 4 month old black lab when we got her we found out some one threw her away in the trash I love her and so does my wife and Kids my only fear is reading about behavior problem when the puppy is taken away from the mom to early do I have to be worried about there safety being bit by her there 3 and 5 years old only because my wife just called me telling me out our the blue Bella just bit her hand and when she looked at her it seemed Bella looked mad will classes be an answer or am I just wasting my money.

    Thank you

  2. Hey, We got a puppy that was almost 7 weeks old, the mother got sick so the family who was housing the puppies had to try and get them out instead of run the risk of them getting sick. Is there any way we can help the puppy adjust easier due to this unforeseen complication??

  3. Thank you for this article. I am currently dealing with a breeder who is trying to pressure me into taking the pup 3 days before she turns 8 weeks. Do I run the risk of her having problems at this point? He says no but my gut says otherwise. I noticed when we first visited the puppy a month ago that she was whiny but when she came to our house for a visit, she was much more calm and seemed at ease in our home quickly. I don’t want to harm her. Should I just insist that he hold on to her until she’s reached the proper age? I also don’t want to run the risk that he’ll try to back out of the deal since I’ve already put down $500. I’m in a quandary. Can anyone help me?

  4. Great article! This leaves me with a question of a dog whose mother was pulled from a litter at 6 weeks but the puppy remained with the litter until 9 or 10 weeks .

  5. WOW! So my partner and I are receiving two husky puppies next weekend and I wanted to research on a few things and ran across this article. And just reading this and the comments im so torn about getting the puppies too early. The mother has not been really feeding the puppies and while the breeder has been feeding them formula and taking good care of the puppies, im wondering will it still be a problem taking the puppies at 5 weeks (brother & sister) since the breeder themselves have already separated the puppies from the mother already? I need help because I want to give the puppies a very good and stable home. Thanks in advance.

    • Never take 2 puppies from the same litter. They bond with each other and never bond with their human owners.

      • I purchased two brothers from the same liter and never had any trouble with either bonding with humans.

        • I have two sister pits and they don’t really like each other they get jealous of each other though

      • If people get 2 pups from the same litter to make it easier on theirselves and do it so they don’t have to deal with night whining or so the pup has a playmate and they don’t have to be the one they should become cat people.

  6. I have a husky pup, she’s seven months now, she lives with a German sheppard pup, they’re both the same age. My german sheppard loves attention, but my husky seems to hate it. We only get to touch her when she’s eating. How do I make her trust me so I can touch her? Her mother died on birth, the sailer told me. I bought her when she was 36 days old. A week later I bought the german sheppard, and they’re growing togheter ever since.

  7. I have a 3 1/2 week old husky baby he was abandoned I have had him for about a week now and he just got his teeth and started biting do you have any advice for me on what I can do to be mommy I guess

  8. What about puppies whose mom dies? I met with a breeder in person and met the mother dog before going on a waitlist. The dogs on the premises are well taken care of and have great temperaments. There were complications with the birth, they went to the vet and 8 puppies were born by Csection. Mom died of a blood clot a few hours later while still under observation. The puppies are being hand raised with puppy formula in the breeders living room. They will go home at 8 weeks the same as they normally would. Will these puppies have behaviour problem without the experience of interacting with mom? I’m hesitant about taking one now, when before I was very excited waiting for my puppy to be born.

    • Good questions, I am actually in the same boat and was wondering the same issues. can I be notified as well if you got an answer? Thanks

    • Same here. The mother rejected all the puppies, and refused to feed them. All but one perished. The breeder has separated the last one from the mother to avoid a similar fate. Are there techniques to counterbalance all the concerns you express?

  9. I enjoyed reading this article despite its humanizing of the puppies. I often joke about how similar small children and puppies are ( I have had both)
    The reason I am commenting is response to the section about a puppy being separated too early, then becoming a mother herself and how she will not be able to pass on certain educative qualities to the puppies she rears. My snow dog was received by us right at 6 weeks old because of her mothers deatb. Now, luckily she did get almost 6 weeks with the mother so maybe that has something to do with it. She recently became a mother and she is doing a Fabulous job in all areas!! I’ve witnessed her teaching them gently that she is done with their suckling, she has let them “self-soothe” to get to sleep, and she nudges them over onto their backs (what I now know is her teaching them to be submissive). The point is, there IS still a chance that your pup whom was separated *just a bit* too early, to still have the much needed (and human-desired!) coping and caring skills to be a wonderful mother.
    I appreciate the author for writing this article as I found it in the perfect time as I was arguing with the “new father” of one of the pups that 6 weeks old was too young for him to take the pup home. I know he loves the pup and has consistently come by every 3 days to visit with him and the rest of the litter so I know he will be a good “dad”. This article, I believe, helped him to understand that I am not trying to keep the puppies longer than needed just because I love them, but most importantly, because I want them to have the opportunity to be well-adjusted, awesome companions. Thanks again Snowdog Guru!!

  10. Hello. This is more of a rant.. so im sorry im advance.
    A friend took a husky puppy home at 3 weeks old because the mother wasnt always feeding it. She does have a year old male dog she got when it was 5 weeks old but i dont think that will help the new puppy learn like they think it will. They also baby the puppy like a human. It is always swaddled in a blanket and in the bed. Or laying on its back to drink puppy milk, because “thats the only way she drinks”. Which ive fed it like a normal puppy would drink off mom no problem. The puppy is always being touched and held and tossed around. They let it eat some nacho cheese.. not a lot.. but a 3 to 4 week puppy should not have any..They took it to a little river where people swim and had it in the water. This puppy is only 4 weeks old right now, has no shots, and has already been put in a river to “try to learn to swim”. Id say it gets a long with people just fine but it is only 4 weeks old..

    Will this puppy be okay or is it going to grow up to be a nightmare.

  11. 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.

    • Absolutely correct. Couldn’t agree more. I am a very experienced dog breeder. The person writing this article clearly doesn’t have first hand experience and is very naive misinforming so many people. I’ve had dogs from 6 weeks old. The earlier you train them the better they are. I also had dogs from 8 weeks and they turn out worse because of no training at an early age.

  12. 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.

    • Oh no.. my friend took a husky home at 3 weeks.. i didnt think itd be good but oh no… how is yours around other dogs? Im worried about taking my dogs over there.

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

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

    • Actually the perfect age to remove a puppy is 12 weeks. They longer they stay with mom and family the less issue you have in the long run. My breeder would not let my pup go even one single day before 12 week mark. So good for you.

  16. 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

  17. 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.

    • Unfortunately your credentials do not do you justice. This article is quite accurate. My dog was pulled away at 6 weeks. I got the dog at 3 1/2 after being moved from shelter to shelter for behavior issues. He is on xanax and I cant leave him at all. He snaps at people, has eating issues and has to be fed water with a syringe when the xanax wears off because he gets dehydrated from not drinking. Luckily I work from home, and I can take care of all these things. And ironically, I have a degree in psychology too. But I have more going for me then just a degree and brains. I have a heart too.

  18. 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?

  19. 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?..

  20. 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!

  21. 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..

  22. 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?

  23. 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

  24. 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!


  25. 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.

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