Puppies:  Consequences of Prematurely Separating Mom And Her Puppies

September 28, 2023

In ISCDT’s last blog post, Puppies: Why Waiting Eight Weeks Matters, we outlined the importance of keeping puppies with their mom for at least eight weeks.  This blog explores the consequences of prematurely separating mom and her puppies.

Prematurely separating mom from puppies

Various problems can arise from prematurely separating mom from her puppies. Below we discuss several of those possible issues.

Anxious Vocalizations and Fear

Prematurely separating mom from her puppies often causes distress for the pups. This stress may result  in puppies who whine, cry and bark excessively. In addition, robbing a puppy of proper maternal guidance during the crucial early weeks can cause shy and fearful puppies.

Not only can puppies suffer anxiety around unfamiliar people or situations, they could struggle to trust or bond with all family members.  

Lack of Bite Inhibition and Poor Communication Skills

We have all experienced the pain caused by sharp puppy teeth penetrating our skin.  Can you imagine if your puppy did not learn bite inhibition?  

Bite inhibition is a skill puppies learn from their mother and littermates.  From a young age, puppies engage in play fighting, which allows them to develop an understanding of how to control the force of their bites.  Puppies who miss out on this lesson often have problems when interacting with humans and other dogs.

In addition to controlling their bite pressure, another consequence of prematurely separating mom from her puppies is that puppies miss out on understanding body language, vocalizations and calming signals. Missing out on this skill may lead to overly rough play, causing socialization difficulties and injuries.

Low Tolerance, Lack of Impulse Control and Behavioral Issues

Prematurely separating mom from her puppies may contribute to behavioral issues such as destructive behavior, excessive barking and lack of impulse control.

Impulse control is a skill learned through interactions with littermates and the mother.  Without this skill, a puppy may struggle with self-control, making it difficult to manage behavior in different situations.  

Puppies may also experience low tolerance for stress.. These puppies are easily overwhelmed in stressful situations, which leads to frustration.  This is why puppies taken from their mom too soon often suffer with separation anxiety.

These puppies often struggle with a lack of independence. Puppies slowly build confidence under the guidance of their mother. This crucial process can be hindered by prematurely separating mom from her puppies.

Puppies also learn structure from their mom.  Separating them too soon can lead to challenges with housebreaking and learning basic obedience.

Health Issues

Essential nutrients and antibodies are provided to puppies through the mother’s milk.  If puppies do not receive early care and nutrition from the mom, their future health can be negatively affected.

consequences of prematurely separating mom from her puppies

The consequences of prematurely separating mom from her puppies can have life-long consequences on a puppy’s emotional, behavioral and physical development. It is essential that we prioritize the best interest of puppies by allowing them to remain with their mother for at least eight weeks.  In doing so, we can provide puppies with the best chance for a happy, healthy and well-adjusted future. 


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