When looking to purchase or adopt a new puppy, it is important to take into account the age and stage of development of your puppy.  Knowing the ages and stages of puppy development, you and your family can decide when is the best time for you to take a puppy home.

Too Early

It is possible to get a puppy that is too young, especially if the mother has passed away or the owners of the puppies are in a hurry to be rid of the young pups.  Be careful when taking a very young puppy home – you will need to give it lots of extra time and attention during this critical period. 

From the moment a puppy is born until he or she is about 12 days old, the primary concern is food and warmth.  This is a basic survival period and if possible, a puppy should be left with his or her mother during this time. 

Puppies begin to develop into slightly less dependent creatures between 12 and 20 days old, however, your puppy is still learning how to eat and make urinary and bowel movements.  A puppy’s eyes and ears don’t open until he or she is around 21 to 28 days old. 

Although your puppy is beginning to react to various sights and sounds, it is still not ready to be taken from his or her mother and brothers and sisters just yet.  Give your puppy some more time to learn canine social behavior.


Between 29 and 41 days, your puppy begins learning critical things that will often shape the personality of the dog he or she will become.  Discipline is learned from the mother dog by dragging the puppy back to his or her brothers and sisters should he or she stray just a little too far. 

Socializing with his or her brothers and sisters is critical during this time, as it will influence how your puppy reacts to other dogs as he or she grows up.  Your puppy’s mother will also begin to teach him or her how to be alone – soon, your new puppy will be so independent that he or she doesn’t rely on the mother much at all anymore. 

During this period, it is not life-threatening to your puppy to remove it from its natural surroundings.  At this stage of development, the puppy can eat, sleep and do just about everything on his or her own.  It is beneficial, however, if you allow your puppy as much time as possible with his or her brothers and sisters to maximize the learning stage.

Ready to Take Home

Your new puppy is ready to take home when he or she is between 7 to 12 weeks of age.  During this time, your puppy is beginning to socialize well with humans and is taking a real interest in his or her surroundings. 

By taking your new puppy home at the right time you can be sure that he or she has gotten the maximum benefit from the critical life and learning periods and will be ready to grow into a healthy and happy dog.

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