Whelping and Raising Puppies: Week 8

The countdown is on...

Puppies will be beginning to leave for their new homes between 9 and 12 weeks of age. By 8.5 to 9 weeks puppies are usually ready to leave their littermates and are ready for individual attention. Many breeders choose to keep some breeds longer to temperament test them, as dominant and subordinate behaviors start to develop, and depending on the breed, this is an important factor when placing puppies. Some pets are kept longer for show potential assessing. Some are kept longer until they are older for shipping. Some are kept until they can be altered or so genetic testing can be done. There are many good reasons a breeder will keep puppies past eight weeks, and no good reasons to send a pup off earlier than this age. Pups are also ready to begin housetraining at eight weeks. Make sure your breeder knows a little about your lifestyle, family and dog experience, as they will need to know some things about your family to properly place the correctly tempered puppy with you.

A wet black puppy is being bathed by a person over top of a sink.

They get a nice bath before they go. As a breeder we have done 3 to 5 baths prior to leaving, just to get them used to it.

A person is putting ear cleaner in a wet puppy's ear.

They do not really need an ear cleaning but I do this after every bath as the product is also a drying agent that will dry up any water you may have gotten in their ears. All dogs love a good ear massage and cleaning.

A blonde-haired girl is holding a wet black puppy wrapped in a green towel, close to her.

puppy loves cuddles...

A black Havanese puppy is laying on top of someone that is laying on a couch and the person is drying the puppy with a red hair dryer.

…and blow-dry. Pups get used to all sorts of new things from 7 to 9 weeks at the breeders home.

A little black Havanese puppy is looking at the red blow dryer in front of it.

Including a vaccuum. This is why house raised pups excel over barn raised or basement raised pups.

A white with gray Havanese puppy is getting its nail clipped by a person behind it.

Their nails are done one last time. Be careful not to cut the quick, or your puppy will not be so trusting to let you do it routinely.

A white with gray Havanese puppy is laying against a lady as she clips its nails.

Frequent trimming will make the quick retract and enable you to keep your dog’s nails short. It is nice to cut them as short as possible, as this makes the quick retract. Also have QUIK STOP on hand in case you go too short.

A black with gray Havanese puppy is laying on its back in a ladies lap. The puppy is sniffing the ladies hand as she holds the nail clippers.

Your puppy should be totally relaxed on his/her back in a submissive position. This puppy is totally trusting and relaxed, which makes nail trimming easy.

A lady is clipping the nails of a black with gray Havanese puppy that is laying belly-up in her lap.

If your young puppy will not stay willingly in this position make him/her do so. You must be the dominant one, and win its trust and respect.

A lady is clipping the nails of a black with gray Havanese puppy that is chewing her watch.

Some new puppies that haven't had proper socialization from the original breeder, or those puppies with pushy attitudes that do not want to lie on their backs, may need some work to get them used to this position. A good technique is to put them on their backs daily. Start with foot massages then go to individual toe massages. Progress to pretend nail trimming daily and then on to the real thing. I have heard from some new owners that it takes two of them to hold the puppy down to trim nails and some even need to give a tranquilizer before grooming. It would be nice to attempt to make the puppy enjoy the grooming rather than having it be a constant unpleasant experience for both dog and owner.

A man in a green shirt is laying a brown with white Havanese puppy down on a towel on top of a table.

Have more than one person practice laying each puppy on its back, and teach the pup to be trusting of people to willingly lie on his/her back. This will make future vet examinations and grooming much easier on both dog and owner. Pictured is Emma laying happily and willingly on her back for Stan.

Your puppy’s socialization started with the breeder, but now it is the new owner’s responsibility to continue the process. The socialization that your puppy receives up to 12 weeks of age is the most important, as that is the time when he/she forms his/her impressions of the outside world. Eight to ten weeks is classified as a fear period, but I have seen puppies totally skip this fear period. For those puppies that are a little unsure of themselves, at this age interaction should be gentle and reassuring. Do not overwhelm puppies between eight and ten weeks of age. That is the age to explore their new home. They are not ready for the big world yet and besides, they haven't had enough booster shots to be taken out everywhere. LACK of socialization after ten weeks can display itself in fear and aggression as the dog grows up. Improper socialization with rough unsupervised children can also form negative behavior. Make sure all child-puppy play is supervised. Not only could the child hurt the puppy, but an over-exuberant puppy could accidentally nip a child.

INCLUDE lots of human contact of all ages, affection, handling in all different positions (including the down on back position frequently), grooming and exposure to other animals. Put your head down near the dish as if you are going to share dinner, get all family members to do this. The dog should NEVER growl to protect his dinner; nip this quick if the puppy starts growling. A dog is a pack animal and needs to have a leader. If he doesn't, then he will become the leader.

A smiling blonde-haired girl is laying a brown with white Havanese puppy on its back on a carpet.

Lots of play on their backs... Emma at 10 weeks... Puppies can be so cute that it can be hard to establish dominance, however you have to. You will NOT break their spirit, you will earn it. Puppies have to also learn that it is okay to spend time alone. she doesn't whine anymore when alone, she has learned that being alone is okay. She doesn't like to be alone, but is not afraid or anxious when she is left alone.