Best not to split puppy from mom until offspring is 8 to 12 weeks old
What are the stages of dog development?
Answer: As with children in their first few years, a pup's first several weeks lay the foundation for his entire physical and psychological profile. A wealth of knowledge is taught and shared between mother and litter mates. The pups learn dog language, cues from their mother, appropriate behavior and social order.
From birth until 2 weeks of age, a puppy is completely dependent on its mother for warmth, food and protection, critical for establishing security and self-confidence. Between 2 and 4 weeks, a puppy begins to be able to see and walk - developing a relationship with its dog family and the world around it.
Between 3 and 12 weeks the framework is set for the rest of the pup's life in terms of its relationship with the world. During this critical period of socialization, pups learn about other dogs, people, places, sights and sounds. This is when caregivers should gently introduce pups to a wide range of experiences so they have all the right stuff that makes a great island dog: innate confidence, situational flexibility, healthy sense of curiosity and an affection for all kinds of people, other animals, sounds and places.
Q: A friend's dog, Charo, just had puppies, and he's trying to give them away but they're only 3 weeks old. At what age can a puppy be removed from its mother and litter mates?
A: Encourage your friend to keep the family together for several more weeks. If he's unable or unwilling, refer him to the Hawaiian Humane Society's foster care program.
Ideally, it's best not to separate a mom and her pups until they are at least 8 weeks old. That's about when she starts to wean her pups, and the litter has had at least a little time with its family. Ideally, about 12 weeks with mom and siblings offers the healthiest start for a young pup.
Also, Charo would benefit from sterilization, which can cost your friend as little as $75 and a quick trip to his veterinarian's office. You might want to offer to coordinate this for him if he hasn't the time or inclination to do it himself.
The Hawaiian Humane Society welcomes questions by e-mail, firstname.lastname@example.org. Indicate "Pet Ohana" in the subject line. Or, write "Pet Ohana," Hawaiian Humane Society, 2700 Waialae Ave., Honolulu 96826.