Help your dog prepare for her puppies leaving
What a fun but exhausting journey it is breeding from your dog! But 8-12 weeks after they are born, it’s time for puppy weaning and to find the puppies new homes.
When should you find your puppies new homes?
You need to wait at least 8 weeks from their birth before selling puppies, as they need to go through all their early developmental stages before puppy weaning. If you separate them early, it can cause many behavioural issues which can last into adulthood, including:
- Separation anxiety
- Excessive and continual barking
- Difficulties with house-training
Smaller dogs, such as Pugs and Chihuahuas, often benefit from staying with their mum, also known as the dam, until they are 12 weeks old because they need longer to go through their developmental stages.
Some breeders decide to delay the puppies leaving mum to 12 weeks from birth so they can socialise, train, worm and vaccinate them. This is a responsible practice and gives the puppies a good start in life.
How to prepare for puppies leaving mum
We sometimes project our feelings and emotions onto our pets, imagining them feeling the pain we would in a similar situation. Weaning puppies is one such example. We think about how we would feel saying goodbye to our own offspring and never knowing what happens to them. Fortunately, dogs do not seem to share quite the same thoughts!
You will notice that around 8 weeks, your dam is spending less time with her puppies. She might feed the litter quickly and stay to play for a while but then leave them to go and do something else. If she is spending time in the puppy pen it may be because you are there too and she actually wants her owner’s attention rather than her puppies.
There are some things you can do to make it easier for your dam, physically and emotionally, when puppy weaning:
- Make sure the puppies are ready to leave. Don’t be tempted to send them off early, particularly smaller, more fragile breeds
- Allow your dam access to her puppies whenever she wants, but she should only nurse them 2-3 times a day
- Make sure she can have a drink whenever she pleases but start to cut back her food when there are only 2 or 3 puppies left
- Give her more attention and belly rubs. At the same time, you can check her nipples for mastitis, which could develop as she feeds less
- Take her for some free time, gradually building up her exercise levels to get her fit. Make sure she is wormed and treated for fleas and ticks
- If your dam is a working dog, ease her back into her job
If you decide to keep one of the puppies, it is best to let her see her puppy when she pleases but keep them separately the rest of the time. If the puppy is still feeding, this will need to end at the 16-week point.
By following these steps and making sure your puppies go to their new homes when they are ready, you are allowing your dog to adjust to them leaving, and giving the puppies the best start in life.
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