Sadly, many breeders you will run across on the internet will offer their puppies to be picked up anytime after 5 weeks of age. These breeders are not looking out for you, not looking out for the puppy, they are just tired of putting time and money into the puppy, and want it “gone”.
After a puppy is born, the mother does most of the “dirty work” with puppies. She feeds them, she cleans them, and she eats their feces. When the puppies are around 5 weeks old, she stops cleaning them as well, but she will keep feeding them. Even though puppies are small, a litter of them can generate a great deal of mess. They don’t care “where” they “go”, who steps in it or who lays in it. It’s the humans job to make sure they are kept cleaned up.
At six weeks of age, the weaning process begins. This is when the puppies are gradually seperated from their mother. An hour or so the first day, then a couple hours more the next, and so on. The puppies also begin to puppy food. At this age, their puppy food usually is a mixture of puppy food soaked in condensed milk, and baby cereal is also typically added. Most breeders soak the food until it is about the consistancy of catsup. Keep in mind that when puppies eat, they’re not clean eaters. They step in it, slip in it, lay in it- and some puppies become coated in it. So, the puppies need cleaned after each feeding to prevent them from being one big sticky mess.
Puppies at this age are messy, and a great deal of breeders (not reputable ones) want these puppies sold and taken as soon as possible to avoid having to go through all of this. It’s very time consuming to care for a litter, and many breeders are only in it for the money, so they allow the puppies to be taken at 5-6 weeks.
The thing that many people don’t see to understand is that puppies need to be kept with the litter to get proper socialization. After 6 weeks of age they don’t need their mother like they did when they were younger, but the do need their siblings. This is when they learn how to interact with others, how to share, they become very playful with their brothers and sisters, and when they go to sleep, most of the time they all pile up on each other and sleep as one big glob of puppies. They interact with their litter mates so much at this age, it’s awful that some of these breeders are so greedy that they want to starve the puppies of this learning experience.
Many pet owners don’t understand why waiting a couple weeks longer is important either. They feel that the sooner they get their puppy, the better… this is very untrue. Taking a puppy too soon can lead to temperament problems. What does that mean? It means you could end up with a cute cuddly puppy that turns into a dog that does not get along well with other dogs or people. If you have children or even have children who visit you- this can be very bad. Kids tend to make a great deal of dogs a little nervous. Kids are unpredictable in their movements, young ones are not real graceful and an innocent movement can lead to a child being bitten if you have a dog with a bad temperament.
Some puppies require an even long socialization time. A good breeder will know how each individual puppy is doing by keeping a close eye on the litter. They know which puppy is a tad on the shy side and needs a little more time, they know who the most outgoing puppy is, the most frisky, etc. Some breeders will not even let you take the puppies until they’re 8, 10 or even 12 weeks of age. This all depends on the individual puppy, and how he is coming along. If the breeder feels the puppy needs more time, give them more time. Usually a breeder is planning on keeping some of the puppies from the litter (which is the reason they bred the litter in the first place) and your puppy will have littermates there to play with and learn from during that extra time. It is much better to wait to get your puppy than to take him too soon and have temperament issues.
Even after you get your new puppy home, you still need to work on socialization. Your puppy needs to be handled, cuddled (of course) and introduced to new people and new things. Puppies learn so much at a very young age, and all this will make them into the wonderful dog that you wanted in the first place.
One thing I hear pet owners complain about most is trimming nails on their pet. They never fooled around with it when the dog was a puppy, and then the dog “flips out” when they go to do his nails. The reason is because the puppy wasn’t used to having his feet touched much. This needs to start instantly. You don’t actaully have to trim the nails constantly, but you should be handling the puppies feet, combing and brushing the puppy and getting him used to being groomed. This is true if you have a Labrador Retriever, Chihuahua, Shih-tzu, Poodle, Schnauzer- every breed. All dogs require nail trimming and ear cleaning on a regular basis- it’s your job to make sure the dog is used to it.
If a breeder is offering to let you take the puppy prior to it being 8 weeks old, I suggest you locate another breeder. The “price” may be right, but the breeder is wrong. In most states, it’s actaully against the law to allow a puppy to leave the litter prior to 8 weeks of age.
The Wonderful World of Sidy Boy