Age to Bring a Puppy Home

There's been much debate on the best time to take a puppy home. Most breeders and pet professionals agree that you shouldn't take a puppy away from his mother before 7½ weeks. Most breeders will insist on keeping the puppy until eight or nine weeks old, and many municipalities forbid the sale of puppies younger than eight weeks.

What's so important about eight weeks, and why must the puppy stay with his mother and siblings so long? Much of this has to do with socialization. A puppy needs the security of his mother and his littermates. From the time the puppy is born to the time he leaves his family to join yours, he is learning crucial skills. He is learning to become a dog. His interaction with his mother and siblings teach him the proper way to behave around other dogs.

If you take a puppy away from his family too early, he may develop emotional problems that will plague him the rest of his life. Puppies taken away from their moms at five or six weeks tend to be insecure.

There's a lot of talk about a “fear period” for puppies. This is when the puppy goes through nervousness or shyness because of new things. Chances are, your puppy may be shy of new things at various times or may not show shyness at all, depending on his personality and his socialization.

At eight weeks, the puppy has been weaned for a few weeks and has had a chance to interact with his mom and siblings fulltime. He is still young enough that his behaviors aren't fully set. He has had at least his first set of vaccinations and has possibly been dewormed. Ask the breeder what vaccinations and health care the puppy has had. Don't be overeager to get him before that time. You will have him to enjoy the rest of his life.

Can you get a puppy older than eight weeks? Most certainly! If the puppy is older than eight weeks, he is simply more mature. He will bond readily to you.

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