Most people think the best age to get a puppy is 6 weeks - WRONG,WRONG,WRONG! NEVER get a puppy before 7 weeks of age.So what are the best times? Here's a couple of well-researched reasons why.....(most of this is from research done by the Guide Dogs for the Blind, Inc.)
Puppies have 4 critical periods of development between birth and 16 weeks (4 mos) of their lives. What happens to them during these 4 mos. determines what kind of companion they will become and shapes their character for the rest of their lives!
From 21-28 days (4 weeks) is especially crucial and should the puppy be separated from its mother and littermates at this time it would be so emotionally upsetting that the puppy will never be compensated in life for the loss of interaction of its mother and littermates.
Characteristically, puppies weaned at 4 weeks are a training nightmare because they never get the connection between a reward or correction and what they were doing at the time. (For example, the dog grabs your sandwich and you yell "NO". It will not understand why you are saying no, nor why it is unacceptable to grab what it wants.) Between 4 and 5 weeks is when the puppy becomes aware of its surroundings and littermates and discovers when it bites too hard on one of them or Mama Dog - it gets corrected by Mama or the littermate bites back - hard! They learn to play bite at an acceptable level for their playmates. This is important to us because we can then teach them not to bite or nip us....they will learn that we are rather delicate creatures by puppy standards! :-)
Canine socialization is so important for a puppy to be well-adjusted. A puppy needs contact and interaction with it's mom and littermates to learn doggy social graces, such as how to approach another dog, how to show submission and how to initiate play. A puppy weaned at 5 weeks is characteristically aggressive towards strange dogs. Some people call this "Dog aggressive", but it is basically caused by the dog not knowing how to approach or be approached by a another dog. Mothers discipline pups and teach them as well....this is as important in dogs as it is in human children.
A puppy weaned at 6 weeks may have the social skills but will not have all the self-confidence in itself as it would after 7 weeks. This is extremely important in a service dog or a dog you want to take responsibility for you, your home and property.
For more information on dog behavior and puppy training, here's a great reading list to start you off...
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