Dog Litter Separation

By Valdette Muller| January 29, 2018 | Blog


When puppies are born, we as potential pet owners cannot wait to invite them ‘one by one’ into our families. 

Mother dogs rarely get to keep their puppies, pet owners or breeders have the new puppies donated to family and friends or sold off.

It is tempting to distribute them to those who will give them loving homes, but it is crucial that the proper time period is followed from the moment they are born to the day they are old enough to leave mom.

It is important that puppies spend a certain number of weeks with their mother and brothers and sisters before they leave them.

If the proper time period is not followed, puppies could develop problems later in life, and the mother could also suffer serious medical problems related to separation anxiety and stress.

New-born puppies.

Similar to a human baby, a puppy is extremely dependent on it’s mother for physical contact and nourishment for the first few weeks of their life. During these early weeks, a new puppy learns social skills from it’s mother and siblings. These social skills are critical for its development.

For example; a puppy will learn behaviours while it plays with its brothers and sisters. It will start to understand when biting is bad, as well as when “play time” can be a bit too rough.

During the first few weeks, it is important to introduce the puppies to humans and allow frequent human contact. It helps puppies become aquatinted with potential owners.

Make sure to give each puppy daily individual attention which will allow them to get used to positive interaction with people.

At what age can we separate the litter?

We recommend that the age for separating puppies starts from 6 to 8 weeks old.

This timeline is on course with a mother dog’s supplemental feeding and when the puppies should be weaned off their mother’s milk. During the end of the 6th week, it is important that weaning takes place gradually – for the mother’s health and for the puppies. What can help this weaning process is supplementing the puppies diet and reducing the mother dog’s frequency in nursing her puppies. This will encourage her milk to dry up gradually and naturally during the 6 week to 8 week period.

When separation goes wrong.

If you wean the puppies off their mother’s milk too abruptly, it will cause congestion of the mother dog’s mammary glands. This can become very painful for the mother dog and may lead to mastitis, which is the inflammation of mammary glands.

If puppies are separated from a litter too soon, health and behavioural problems may occur and can plague a puppy right into adulthood.

  • A dog can have a decreased learning ability.
  • A dog may become nervous in nature from the trauma of separating too early from their mother.
  • A dog may inherit poor physical health from being weaned off their mother’s milk too soon.
  • A dog can become more susceptible to sickness and disease from a lack mother’s milk.

Bringing your new puppy home.

After your new puppy has reached the appropriate age to leave mom and siblings, you will become their new parent.

If the your puppy’s mother is not in sight or does not live with you then it is only natural that the puppy cries or whines for their mother for the first week while they adjust to their new home.

It is very important that when you have separated the puppy from their mother that you take over the role and give it the most contact and affectionate attention you can in order for them to adjust to their new home.

Allow your puppy to sleep next to your bed, on the floor in it’s own bed. This way if it cries during the night, you can reach down and comfort it.

This helps the puppy feel reassured that they have not been abandoned and will help the puppy bond with you.




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