Over the past few days, as we entertained puppy visitors there were questions about when the pups can go home and what some of our suggestions are.
On the topic of going home, we release pups at 10 weeks. I have the link on my web site, but this is the link to an article written by Dr. Ed Bailey: http://www.doggonesafe.com/bailey 49th day.htm
I won't repeat the findings and opinion of Dr. Bailey on this subject, but suffice it to say that where Wolters came up with the Magic 49th Day is questionable and there are good arguments against that as the Gold Standard. You might enjoy reading about the various stages of development that a puppy goes through. One such article can be found at: Puppy Development
We feel strongly that this is critical to sending home a confident, well-rounded puppy. Many of the important life lessons are yet to be learned at 7 weeks and there is also the culmination of another fear period. At times we have sent an individual home a little earlier than 10 weeks if they are going to an experienced handler who knows how to appropriately continue their education. Many breeders will prefer to get the pups out the door as quickly as possible. Why? Because once puppies are weaned it becomes exponentially more expensive to keep them. There are vaccinations and much, much more time involved.
Bringing up puppies is labor intensive. There is a window of opportunity for exposing them to new things and making sure their experiences are shaped for the positive. If you have visited other breeders, I hope that you can the differences in between how many pups are raised and how they should be. This is a lifetime commitment on the part of the puppy. Consider also that, since we will take back any of our pups at ANY TIME during its life if you are unable to keep it, we also have an investment in making sure great dogs go out the door!
One lesson they are learning now is that adult dogs can say "no". To this point, their world has been one of I demand and You supply. Now their mother is enforcing rules and they also have to earn their food by practicing manners. (growing up sucks). In the next few weeks, they will meet other adult dogs and learn how to properly interact with them. I cannot reinforce this enough, but do NOT allow your puppy to interact with dogs that you do not personally know. You are their protector and they trust the decisions you make. Don't let them down by introducing them to a dog that is going to jump on them and bite. Puppy will learn that they should act tough and threaten first the next time, which is not something you want them to learn. Likewise, understand that a stable, reasonable adult dog will make doggie corrections to the puppy that gets out of hand. Resist the temptation to swoop in and protect your baby (who may indeed shriek at the imposition, as I heard one do this morning when Momma reinforced NO) unless it is apparent that things are out of hand. When a puppy (or dog) yipes and cries, I do not soothe it and say "what's the matter?". I simply give it a pat and say "no big deal" and move on. The pup will learn not to dwell on the insult and to move on, rather than act injured and get attention.
No matter what age the puppy goes home, remember that they are always learning, even if you are not formally teaching a lesson. I will cover some useful tips for training in upcoming posts.