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You’ve made the decision. Everyone is on board. You know what breed. You’ve decided on a boy or a girl – maybe even siblings! Now you’re off to adopt the little pup. Hopefully, you have done the research and are going to adopt from a reliable source, and not a puppy mill.
Puppies should not be separated from their mother or siblings before they are two months old—later if at all possible. When they are separated too early, they miss out on important developmental stages that only occur only while living with their littermates. When they are separated from their canine family too soon, behavior problems could arise down the road.
Puppies are born blind, deaf, without teeth, and cannot regulate their body temperature. They don’t have the ability to relieve themselves. The mother licks the puppies all over to not only keep them clean, but the licking stimulates them to urinate and defecate.They depend on their mother and the litter to keep warm. A puppy that gets separated from the warmth of the litter can quickly die from low body temperature.
Puppies sleep nearly 90 percent of the time for the first two weeks. The rest of the time is spent nursing. Newborn puppies only have the ability to crawl, using their front legs to pull them along. All that crawling helps develop their muscles, and eventually coordination. Their ears open around two weeks old and their eyes open between 10-16 days. Their voices change from grunting and mewling to yelping, whining and barking. They can stand up in 15 days and they start walking by the time they are 21 days old. Before they could see, hear or stand, puppies were totally dependent on their mother. Things start changing quickly at three weeks old – they know what their mother and siblings look like, they can see their environment, and they begin to play with their littermates.
Puppies begin socializing at the end of their third week, and this goes on until 10 weeks old. During this time there is a high level of interaction with littermates and others, and they can form attachments they will remember the rest of their life. Their mother begins weaning them around four weeks, and the puppies begin sampling solid food and water. The weaning process is gradual and is usually finished by the eighth week. You can bet mom is relieved! Between six to eight weeks (the most critical period of your puppy’s life), puppies acknowledge others as members of their family.
Puppies sometimes get scared when meeting new people, or when introduced to new things. Anything that scares them at this point in their early life could very well have a lasting impact. If your puppy’s curiosity turns into fear, be sure to comfort him and reassure him the new person or object will not harm him. Introducing the puppy to new things or puppy to new things or people should always be done very carefully so they don’t get scared.