What is the Best Age to Get a Puppy?

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Best Age To Get A PuppyIf you’re planning to take a new puppy home, it’s likely that you can’t wait to take it with you as soon as possible. As new parents, you can’t wait to experience your life with your best friend and you won’t want to miss one minute of their puppyhood. But before everything else, you need to ask yourself, “What is the best age to get a puppy?” 

In this article, we share everything you need to know about a dog’s age before taking it back to your new home.   

Why You Need to Wait Before Taking Your Puppy Home 

Did you know that taking young puppies home before they’re 2 months of age and ready to be away from the mother dog can have an effect on their behavior for the rest of their life? As such, it’s important not to interrupt the puppy development stage even if you really want to take a dog home with you. Many different opinions and various factors will influence the answer when it comes to the exact age to welcome a dog into your home. 

What is the Socialization Period?

Many veterinarians and dog breeders will tell you that the right age to bring home your puppy is between 8 and 10 weeks of age. The primary reason behind this number is the puppy’s need for a socialization period, which will typically last around 6 to 14 weeks. During this time, puppies will go through social development and will learn about the norms of the world. 

They will also learn behaviors and attitudes that they will carry as adult dogs. When going through the socialization period, puppies will be exposed to new experiences, new environments, new people, new animals, and stimuli, all of which can be done without overstimulating them. This will also help to build the emotional maturity, confidence, and attachments that they may have during their lifetime. 

Learning From Their Litter Mates

Younger dogs around 3 to 5 weeks old will usually begin to understand the world around them and through their mother, a litter of puppies can learn how to communicate along with appropriate behaviors for playing. They will also learn bite inhibition and impulse control thanks to feedback from their mother and siblings. Studies have shown that when puppies are removed too early from their litter, they’re more likely to develop behavioral problems. 

These include fear, aggression, and anxiety; they will also guard their toys and food while being more reactive and harder to train. On the other hand, an older puppy that stays too long with its litter can start developing submissive or dominant behaviors that may also lead to problems. 

The Process of Weaning

Weaning is also an important factor in determining the ideal age for a puppy to leave its litter. According to experts, most puppies will gradually transition from their mother’s milk to solid food between 3 to 5 weeks. This can be a stressful time for the puppies — they shouldn’t be sent to their permanent homes and new owners until they can comfortably eat on their own. 

Puppies that are pulled out from their mother during these essential developmental stages can develop insecure and destructive behaviors at a later age.  

What are the Legal Limitations? 

Some states also enforce laws that specify different requirements for a puppy’s age and breeders will usually need to wait until around 8 weeks old before selling pups to the public. Did you know that 28 states have laws that implement the legal age to sell puppies? Around 15 of these states make it illegal for anyone to sell underage puppies but will often exclude humane societies or nonprofit animal shelters from such limitations. 

In most states, these laws apply to retail pet stores, pet breeders, and other pet shops.   

Different Breeds Will Have Different Needs 

When a breeder works with toy breeds and smaller dogs, they may choose to keep their puppies for longer than 8 weeks because they’re so fragile and little. If a puppy needs to travel over a long distance to get to its new home or needs to ride an airplane, a good breeder will ensure that the pup has received all necessary vaccinations and can handle the emotional and physical stress of traveling. According to experienced dog trainers, small breeds will be ready to form strong bonds by the time they’re 8 to 9 weeks old. 

At the same time, they also said that such pups may also benefit from staying with their littermates longer if their breeder is willing to dedicate plenty of time and energy to basic training and socialization.      

Is it OK to Adopt a 10-Week-Old Puppy? 

In general, the best time for puppies to be separated from their mother and siblings is around 10 weeks old. In a developmental sense, an 8 to 10-week window for dogs is a good place for dogs to start joining a new family since they will still be in a fear period where they’re impressionable. Larger breeds and giant breed dogs will often develop faster compared to their smaller counterparts, so they may benefit from being separated earlier, making 8 to 10 weeks the right age to adopt a bigger dog. 

However, the same can be said for smaller pups, but depending on the breed and how they’re raised by the breeder, they can stay with their siblings a little longer. But no matter which breed you’re after, waiting around 9 to 12 weeks is considered to be the “Golden Window” for puppy training. At this puppy stage, it will be actively working on its social skills and will be highly eager to please their humans and other pack members while looking for guidance.   

What Happens if You Adopt a 12-Week-Old Puppy? 

If you’re looking for older dogs, it’s best to proceed with caution. While it’s good for dogs to spend more time with their mother and siblings, there is a possibility that they can become so bonded with them that their development and socialization can become stunted. When given the right interaction with humans and littermates, an 8 to 10-week-old puppy will be able to navigate through its first fear period.  

While a puppy may be overwhelmed by the big difference in its new environment away from its siblings and mother, it will also be geared to create strong bonds with human children, young adults, and people in general. If it doesn’t venture out of its comfort zone during this stage, then spending extra time with its siblings could mean that it misses out on the critical window of bonding with humans. This can result in a shy or fearful dog, and it may never see its human family as its true pack, and won’t have the same drive to make meaningful bonds with people. 

Because of this, it’s vital that pups are separated from their siblings during this important transitional period so they can properly bond with humans to help them become healthy and happy pets. If you do adopt a puppy that’s older than 12 weeks old, make sure to use positive reinforcement and lots of praise to help develop their social skills. Extra emphasis should be placed on both training and socialization because not all 12-week-old puppies are made equal. 

If you don’t give these dogs extra care and attention they may find it hard to interact with humans and could struggle adapting to life with people around them. Moreover, if you’re unable to give them basic training and potty training, they may be slower to pick up on all forms of house training. 

What is the Best Age to Get a Puppy?

Taking a new dog home takes a lot of work, and as dog owners, it’s up to us to give them the best start possible. Dogs of different ages will have different needs, and during their first year, you will need to ensure that they’ve been raised properly by a reputable breeder. The best way to ensure that your puppy stays healthy is to keep up with their medical needs through yearly veterinary visits which will benefit your pups in more ways than one.