“There is no recipe for becoming a perfect mother, but there are a thousand ways to be a good mother.”
This quote translates well to all animal species. In dogs, during the first weeks of imprinting, mutual attachment is formed between a puppy and its mother. It’s a natural process and essential to the survival of those who are part of the litter. The mother forms a strong bond with her puppies through breastfeeding, thermoregulation, movements, grooming, play time and education.
From a biological point of view, puppies need their mother for nourishment. She provides the heat to keep them at a stable body temperature, since they are unable to keep themselves warm. Additionally, puppies are born deaf, blind, and have limited motor skills. This is why the mother indicates her location by licking them, as soon as they move away from her. She also licks the anogenital region of her puppies to stimulate defecation and urination, since they are not yet able to do this on their own.
It is around week 4 that the puppies start to play and chew. These nibbles can be very painful, since their small teeth are sharp and they do not yet know how to control their jaws. The intervention of the mother is essential, in order to teach the puppies bite inhibition, which is to say the ability to control the force of their jaw, to stop nibbling and how to play with their mouth, but without squeezing.
The teaching role of the mother is also crucial during the exploration stage of her puppies. The behaviour of the mother will tell the puppies if it is appropriate to be afraid or if they can continue their exploration. In addition, they will often come back to their mother to reassure themselves and continue in their discovery of new things.
The legal age for adopting a puppy is 8 weeks. However, it is strongly recommended to wait at least 10 weeks before separating the puppy from its mother. Early weaning and a too short socialisation period increase the risk of behavioural problems.
Finally, we can never say this enough. It is important to choose a breeder carefully and to meet the parents of your future companion. A mother with a good character who is psychologically balanced is more likely to give birth to puppies who are well physically and emotionally. This will greatly simplify its arrival at home as well as its integration into your daily life. Oven-Baked Tradition wishes you a lot of fun with your new best friend! 🐾