Friday, February 6, 2009

Guest Post by Ask Spike: How Old Should A Puppy Be Before It Leaves The Litter?

Hey you loyal readers welcome back to my blog!! Thanks so much for siting & staying, for that you deserve a belly rub & an organic treat. Since Iam unable to dole out belly rubs & treats I have decided to reward you with another wonderful post by my paw pal, expert dog behaviorist Spike. He is here to bark his thoughts & advice on puppy rearing.

But before we get to this much anticipated topic, the first thing that comes to mind when I think about puppies is dental care. Being that this month is Pet Dental Month I need to bark the words. As an honorary dog-vocate of good pet hygiene I need to plug in my two cents about the importance of dental hygiene for all you soon to be pup parents & puppies fresh out the womb. Humans know the importance of dental hygiene in their own lives, but often times oral care for our beloved pets can be overlooked.

Did you know that 80% of pets have oral disease by age 3. No one wants to be a statistic so start your pups brushing at a younger age to reduce their chances. Most puppy's teeth begin to erupt around 3 or 4 weeks of age, what better time to begin!! Acquainting your dog with the dental bone fairy waving her magic toothbrush wand banishing that evil tartar, plaque & bacteria will get any dog brushing.

Just remember that Pet Dental Month should be everyday!! Brushing your dog's teeth is the first step to saving your dog tooth pains in their later dog years and you the expense of vet bills. Now that is something to wag our tails about. So, don't forget to make sure the dental bone fairy leaves a treat under your dogs pillow once he or she finally ( the key word being finally) falls asleep after a long day of chasing squirrels & playing fetch.

Now on to the topic of the hour puppy rearing & leaving the nest..

Barkingly yours,

Lola the eco dog

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This question is often asked by both new dog owners and those that have been blessed with canine interaction their whole lives. Before we jump into the substance, I must stand on a soapbox (or two soapboxes, since I have four paws that I need to support) for a few seconds. We all know how cute puppies can be, but there are many loving dogs that have grown up a little (or a lot) that are in need of homes. They can be found at every animal shelter and at the pound (also known as “Puppy Jail”).

If you are looking for a puppy specifically, it is apparent that many breeders are not as well-versed in the rearing of pups since many of puppies are taken away from their mother way far too early in their development, sometimes as early as three weeks old. This is usually a sign of a breeder who is in business solely to make money, rather than share the gift of a dog’s love and companionship.

Without getting into the biology of it all, I will use a scenario that people may understand a little better. When you are following the cooking instructions for a cake, and the instructions say to cook the cake for one hour, you probably would not take it out of the oven after only 45 minutes. Why not? The cake is not done.

Puppies are not “done” at only four or six weeks either. In fact, their development has barely begun. The following few weeks are very important in the life of a puppy as he develops. Removing him from the litter early can have a negative impact on him for the rest of his life.

When a puppy is between three and seven weeks, he is learning how to be a dog. Sudden changes, such as new surroundings or the absence of his mother and siblings should be avoided. Loud noises are not tolerated well at all.

Both sudden change and loud noises contribute negatively on a growing pup. He has also just begun to recognize the people and other animals in his life. He is learning from his littermates that biting hurts, and Mom is teaching them to accept her as the leader of the pack.

Mom is also starting to potty train during this time as well. She nudges each pup from the nest to teach him that soiling the the area in which a dog lives is unacceptable. Puppies need to learn from their littermates, and from their Mom, until they are at least eight weeks of age.

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