Too young to leave the litter?

Puppies shouldn’t leave the litter until at least 8 weeks old.

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Q. My puppy is 6 weeks old today. I got him a few days ago and he cried all the way home. He cried almost all night, then the next day he was a little better but still cried during the night. Am I supposed to ignore him, or pick him up?

A. You should definitely comfort him and let him know you're there for him. He's crying because he's scared and lonely and misses his birth family. Your puppy is a little baby infant dog who should ideally still be living with his mama and littermates. He really needs you now; you're all he's got in this strange new world.

Keep him in the same room with you as much as possible during the day, and let him sleep near you at night, where he can hear and smell your presence. After a few weeks he'll be physically and emotionally more mature and able to spend a bit more time by himself without becoming frightened.

People make a big mistake by sending baby puppies this young to new homes -- it's not natural or healthy for them to leave their mamas yet. At this age, even though the pups may be fully weaned to solid foods, they still need the company of their littermates and the watchful comfort and guidance of their mama dog. Wise, experienced breeders generally keep their pups until they're a bare minimum of 8 weeks old, and even then they'd benefit from another week to a month with their mamas.

Since your pup is so young, he will not have had a chance to learn important doggie social rules from his mama and siblings. It will be important, during the coming weeks and months, for you to help him meet healthy, friendly dogs his own age and older. That's the only way he can learn the canine social skills that will protect him from becoming a doggie-nerd that other dogs won't like.


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