Ideally, newborn puppies should sleep with their mom until they’re 3 months old. Puppies might survive separation at 4 weeks, but that comes with a set of short-term and long-term problems.
Puppies are helpless in every way when they’re born. And it’s up to the mom to give them nutrition, take care of their hygiene, and keep them safe.
In these early weeks, the puppies’ mom also teaches the little ones how to be sociable and confident. If necessary, she disciplines an unruly puppy into becoming a well-behaved dog.
The absence of a mother’s closeness could subject the puppy to various physiological, emotional, and behavioral problems.
Why Is It Essential for Puppies to Sleep With Mom?
Newborn puppies are a lot like newborn babies; they can’t survive on their own. Also, dogs are social creatures that need to learn the ropes by emulating their parents.
Here are some of the main reasons why puppies need to sleep with their moms.
- Puppies get all of their nutritional needs from their mom.
- Puppies can’t maintain their own hygiene, so they need their mom for that.
- The mom’s antibodies are passed along with the milk to build up the puppy's immune system.
- Puppy dogs need to share the mom’s heat to stay warm.
- Dogs learn about acceptable social behavior through being around their mom and siblings.
- Puppy dogs feel safe and secure when they sleep beside their mom.
- Sleeping by the mother’s side protects the puppies from all sorts of dangers.
Helpful Dog Training Resource:
When Can Puppies Leave Their Mom?
There are many instances where puppies have to leave their mom’s side. That’s why it’s essential to understand the various developmental stages of these little ones.
Some specialists in dog behavior say that 8-10 weeks is an appropriate age, while others prefer to let the puppies sleep with their mom till they are 12 weeks old.
Newborn puppies can’t see, hear, or move properly. In addition, their little legs are too weak, so they can’t move too much. They can’t even regulate their body temperature.
The mommy dog knows that, and she dedicates herself fully to feeding her litter, grooming them, keeping them warm, and stimulating their private parts.
In their early days, puppies can’t even defecate and urinate on their own. They need their mom’s assistance to get their biological processes going.
Puppies normally spend their days and nights napping and eating. Interestingly, during that restful state, they also feel safe around their mom and siblings.
That’s how happy, confident, and secure dogs are made.
The first 4 weeks of a puppy’s life are critical. After that, puppies start wandering out of their box and experiment with life a little.
Still, they can’t fend for themselves and need to stay with their mothers.
At six weeks, puppies would have developed their immune system, and learned how to deal with others. They might also nibble on puppy food without feeling sick.
Socialization and training are still incomplete at this stage. Taking the puppies away would deprive them of learning the fundamentals of survival and good behavior.
Starting from eight weeks, a puppy can leave his mother’s side without too much risk. However, the puppy would benefit from staying a bit more with the family.
Being around other puppies is the perfect way to enjoy a sense of warmth and understand boundaries.
The best time for a puppy to stop sleeping with its mom is at 12 weeks. A 3-month-old puppy is often more adaptable to change, and not too dependent on its mom.
The puppy should also have a pleasant temperament, knows how to deal with others, and is more open to learning.
Helpful Dog Health Resource:
What Happens if You Remove a Newborn Puppy Too Soon?
Some breeders are too eager to get some cash out of selling a litter. They might rush things and take a puppy away from his mother's side too soon.
This immature separation could cause a whole host of issues throughout the dog's life.
Biological symptoms are often the most obvious, and the most common.
Puppies get their immunity from the colostrum that comes with mom’s milk. Additionally, staying by the mother’s side protects them from unnecessary exposure to pathogens.
Slow Weight Gain
The puppy’s best nutrition comes from the mom. It’s balanced and well suited for the little one’s needs. Additionally, the puppy’s appetite is often suppressed after he leaves his mother.
There are some alternatives to feeding puppies, but they rarely work the same way as natural feeding.
Getting Sick Too Often
With a compromised immune system and delayed growth, it’s not too surprising that the puppy wouldn’t be too healthy.
Following up with a vet early on, watching the puppy’s diet, and giving it enough care, could limit these risks significantly.
Dogs express a wide range of emotions, from exhilaration to depression. They’re easily affected by whatever life throws their way.
This is quite common with puppies that don’t get to spend enough time with their moms. Separation anxiety happens whenever the dog finds himself alone.
This often triggers overwhelming stress, and the dog acts out in all sorts of ways.
Dogs suffer from insomnia, just like humans, and instead of sleeping around 14 hours per day, they can’t seem to get any shut-eye at all.
The lack of sleep makes these dogs tense, lethargic, and angry. Giving them Omega-3 and melatonin supplements usually help. Playing with them outdoors is also a good remedy.
Fear of Strangers
Puppies get their sense of security during the time they sleep blissfully by their moms. The early weeks of a pup’s life are also when he learns how to perceive strangers and unusual events.
The reassuring presence of the mom encourages the puppy to trust his surroundings, and feel confident enough to explore.
As opposed to that, early separation makes the puppy fearful and much less comfortable in unfamiliar settings.
This is a serious issue. Hot-tempered dogs that are hard to train are pretty hard to befriend.
Trust is the cornerstone of any kind of relationship, and the one between humans and dogs is no different.
Early separation is the culprit here too. All facets of socialization develop in the newborn puppy’s early weeks.
It’s worth noting that mistrustful dogs also find evident difficulties in relating to other dogs.
There’s evident anger that’s usually seen in such dogs. Early removal leaves its mark on an unfortunate puppy’s psyche.
Sometimes, aggressive dogs take their angst out on other people or dogs. Other times, they dig holes everywhere or destroy furniture.
Nice dogs with sunny temperaments are pretty easy to train. They know that getting their owners’ approval is associated with good behavior.
This is another skill dogs learn early in life from their moms. If they miss that opportunity, they rarely know how to behave, and they become stubborn.
Paul has been creating content for the dog niche for many years. The information he shares comes his first hand experience growing up in dog lovers household and then owning multiple dog breeds of his own as an adult. Paul enjoys doing the hard research to collect, analyze and present our dogtemperament.com readers with the best answers to their questions.