Why is it the cutest things in life are often small?
Babies. Fun-sized candy. And of course…puppies!
Their little paws, their tiny tails, and itty-bitty faces. A puppy that’s just a couple of weeks old is basically an explosion of adorable!
But is it actually okay to bring a dog so young home, no matter how cute they are?
Taking a puppy home earlier than 8 weeks prevents them from achieving crucial milestones, including being properly weaned and socialized, and therefore, should be avoided. In many states, it is also illegal to bring a puppy home before 8 weeks.
In this article, I will discuss why it is not okay to take a puppy home at 6 or 7 weeks.
I will explain the importance of not taking a puppy home before 8-10 weeks old and explore whether there is a difference between taking puppies home at 8 vs. 7 or 6 weeks old.
Finally, I will wrap things up by providing tips to make the best of it if you’ve already brought your puppy home a few weeks early.
They say timing is everything.
Ready to see what a huge difference just a week or two makes?
Let’s get into it!
It’s not okay to take a puppy home at 6 or 7 weeks.
As absolutely precious as a 6- or 7-week-old puppy is, they truly just aren’t ready.
There are several natural processes that your pup needs to go through before you can welcome them into your home.
You may be ready and willing to nurture them, but there are certain things you’re unable to do for them on your own.
Let me explain.
Your dog’s first several weeks of life are a delicate period.
The environment your pup grows in during this time can be likened to a caterpillar developing inside of its cocoon.
It is incredibly important to allow the natural timespan for the following rite of passages to take their course for your pup:
Weaning is the journey your pup takes from drinking their mother’s milk to eating solid dog food. This normally begins around the third- or fourth-week mark.
To be considered successfully weaned, a dog must be off of milk and consistently eating solids for around 5 days, minimum. Weaning can be a multi-week-long process, but it is essential that a puppy fully completes it.
This normally takes 8 weeks, at the very least.
It is not optional that your puppy bonds with their mother; they absolutely need to.
Unfortunately, there can be unfortunate situations of death or separation that don’t allow this to happen in some cases. But whenever possible, a puppy must spend at least the first 8 weeks of life bonding with their mother.
During this time, a puppy learns discipline, independence, and valuable doggy life skills.
A dog that has had ample time to bond with their mom is more likely to be better behaved and healthier both mentally and physically than one who has not.
Like humans, dogs learn a lot simply by interacting with one another. Young puppies who are allowed the appropriate amount of time with their mothers and their litter can learn social hierarchy and establish patterns of dominance and submission.
Puppies also start learning during these 8 weeks that biting is not okay. Based on the reactions of their mothers and peers, a puppy begins to gauge if a bite was too hard or aggressive.
There truly is a big difference…first of which is a matter of the law.
Did you know that it’s actually illegal in many states to bring a puppy home before 8 weeks?
A handful of these states include:
Aside from potential legal woes, bringing a puppy home at 6 or 7 weeks instead of waiting till the standard 8 weeks really does make a difference.
While a dog may technically be weaned by 6 weeks of age, their stomachs are still developing and can be sensitive. Therefore, it’s best not to stress a pup further by taking them away from their mother and littermates prematurely.
Also, the bulk of a dog’s socialization actually takes place between the 6-to-8-week mark. Around 6 weeks is when puppies really do begin to learn boundaries and figure out how they’re supposed to act.
As it’s much harder to socialize a dog when they are older (but possible), having the puppy go through the natural socialization phase with their litter and mom will pay dividends in the future.
I get it; it can be tough to be patient! But in this case, patience truly does pay off.
Even if you want your pup NOW, allowing them more time to fully wean, bond with their mothers, and learn right from wrong will make for an easier transition into your home.
As hard as it can, it does make a difference, and I recommend waiting at least the entire 8 weeks to bring your puppy home.
Maybe you got excited, jumped the gun, and brought your pup home a little early. Or you just didn’t know about this whole “wait 8 weeks” thing.
That’s totally okay!
Here are a few quick tips for caring for a 5–7-week-old puppy:
Often the difference between a gooey pizza or a perfectly crisp crust is just a couple of mere minutes.
Similarly, your puppy needs time to marinate and develop in the warm environment of his litter with his mom…just a few weeks too few can lead to an undercooked pup!
Your best chance to bring home a well-adjusted weaned and behaved dog is to allow them to grow to 8 weeks of age before scooping them up and bringing them into your home.
It can be so difficult to wait when you want to hold them in your arms now!
But the best things in life are well worth the wait.