All over the world stable enthusiastic families look forward to that first day with their new cuddle-puppy. The big day is here! Beds are filled with toys and shiny new water bowls blind new eyes. Every detail has been considered except for one. Your adorable puppy doesn’t seem as happy as you anticipated. They are acting rebellious, timid, boisterous or maybe just sad. You pour all your love and attention into your new beautiful puppy and now confusion! Just when your world couldn’t get any brighter, what gives?
Appreciate The Affection Of A Mother’s Love
Important maternal behaviors kick in after delivery. The nesting area she creates or is provided will give puppies their first exclusive home. It is there she will spend the next couple of weeks intertwined with them. Her warm body heat encourages the pups to merge together; permitting the pups the ability to maintain a normal body temperature. As she licks them she is learning their body scent and they are learning hers. Within the first 12 hours of life she will begin nursing them. She will be providing their first delicious meal and will continue for another 8 to 10 weeks. Warm mother’s milk is filling, nutritious and comforting. In this environment the mother is doing her utmost to protect her pups and the pups heartily reciprocate an attachment.
From day one the adult female dog is building a bond with her newborn puppies. She tends to their every need. Immediately after their birth, she stimulates their breathing by cleaning and soothing them. Newborn puppies are born blind, deaf and helpless at birth. At this point the pups are completely dependent on her for their survival. Her presence reassures the pups of their security. The more love she can provide, the more well-adjusted and secure her pups will feel. These instinctive nuzzles have been shown to support puppies’ physical and emotional health. Her devotion is creating the foundation toward happy confident puppies!
Mama Lays The Groundwork For Sprouting
Before pups are independent and ready to leave mom they must learn how to socialize. Mom is the first official paw patrol!
As pups grow and play they will learn important social skills from her. Accepting dominance is a lesson all puppies must learn. So therefore a low growl or a stiff bark from mom will only enhance their training ability later on. This socialization process takes place between the third and twelfth week of life. An understanding of their place in the pack enhances their future ability to take corrections.
This is one of the transitions they’ll have to make when they go to their new furever home where YOU are the pack leader. Since pups can go to their new homes as early as 8 weeks, there are four weeks where he or she is learning the place in your pack.
During their weeks together littermates become very close. Days are spent socializing and nights spent comforting one another. Puppies learn how to walk, talk and form bonds. It is here puppies gain awareness of feelings and emotions.
Separation Anxiety – Understanding The Reality Of What Puppy REALLY Feels
A puppy undergoes big changes when they leave their familiar setting.
During their short little life they have formed important attachments to mom and siblings. A puppy needs heaps of sleep and up until now they have more than perfected their snuggling routine! It’s a routine that has provided them enduring comfort their entire life.
Dogs are pack animals and have an inherent tendency toward family. Since birth the pup’s pack family has fulfilled all their needs minus the fear factor. Initially fear was not questioned until now. Adoption happens to be a period of time that coincides with a developmental change in how puppies see the world.
At 8-11 weeks all puppies developmentally reach a fear period. During this time your puppy is hyper-aware and very impressionable to their surroundings. Even small events can be impactful and extremely scary! They are not being disobedient. Your puppy is likely stressed and feeling the anxiety brought on by being separated and now have found themselves in an unfamiliar environment.
Those First Few Days…
Plan on taking a few days off from work – Your puppy is separated from the only family they know. They will need to be surrounded by joyful distractions. It’s transition time! Spend time taking short walks, cuddling and playing. A tired puppy is an obedient puppy. Not only are they learning to love their new FurEver home, but now a new FurEver family!
Be prepared for howling, whining and squealing – Day one will be the most frightful for your puppy. It’s natural for a puppy to feel vulnerable and afraid in their new environment. Essentially your puppy is calling for its mom and littermates. Keep your puppy’s crate in close range whispering words of comfort ever so often. This will ease their mind and help the bond between you grow stronger!
Actions To Start Right Away – Moving Past Separation Anxiety
- Begin slowly socializing your pup. Socialization is the key to a stable temperament and personality. Allow your pup to experience different sights, smells and events. Exposure to different environments, situations and people will deepen your puppy’s coping skills. Remember, they’re getting used to their new home.
- Familiarize your puppy with soft music. It’s soothing and studies have shown music reduces stress in dogs at animal shelters. Rates of respiration, barking and cortisol levels were reported to decrease. Reggae, soft rock and classical music ranked the highest! Music is a natural anti-anxiety treatment. As you begin to distance yourself from the home, music will be the peaceful connection linking you while you are away.
- Prevent noise phobias. Introduce your puppy to a variety of noises. There are many techniques involving games, treats and activities producing positive results! Find the right desensitizing approach that is right for your and your pup.
- Practice alone time. Start placing your puppy in their crate, puppy pen or an isolated room. Begin with only a few minutes and gradually increase the time. At bedtime move the puppy’s bed a little further away each night. Your puppy will steadily gain independence and learn to self-sooth.
- Provide plenty of mental and physical stimulation. There are an abundance of enrichment games on the market that will challenge any pup! Digging games, puzzle challengers and treat balls are some of the most popular. Regular exercise can do wonders for a puppy’s mood and sleep! Preferably a routine of exercise prior to leaving. Just 15 minutes of vigorous play will burn off excess energy, promoting solitude while you’re away.
A puppy is a big responsibility and the amount of work in the beginning can often surprise people. The yelps and whimpers those first few days can seem overwhelming, but your puppy is responding with survival instincts like their wolf ancestors. Even in nature, dogs separate from their mothers to prevent inbreeding. Your puppy’s mom intentionally weaned them to be independent dogs. Now it’s your time to help them work toward their next developmental stage in life. Mama has passed the torch on to you, the guiding light in their new FurEver home!
Madson, Cathy. “How to Use Music to Calm Your Anxious Dog.” Preventive Vet, 26 Sep. 2021, https://www.preventivevet.com/dogs/how-to-use-music-to-calm-anxious-dogs