As Dog Trainers and Breeders of Chocolate and Black Labrador Retrievers people ask us why a puppy cannot be released before 8 weeks of age. The answer is simple. A very young pup needs to learn ‘pack order’ and be socialised among its litter mates from week 5 to week 8. During this period a puppy learns how to be a dog.
We start feeding solid food to a litter from week 3. The litter eat together 3 times a day. And from this time we watch the emerging ‘pack dynamics’ around the food bowls. It becomes apparent which pups are dominating.
As early as week 3 and certainly by week 5, a bitch will begin to remove herself from her litter so that the pups will wean. From this time, the pups are living constantly with litter mates and they are learning ‘pack dynamites’. A pup learns to ‘play fight’ in the litter as part of emerging pack order. The pups will wrestle,..bite ears,...bit tails. A puppy learns how to adjust its bite by playing with the other puppies in the litter. This is a critically important period in the puppy’s development. If a puppy does not learn to ‘play fight’ it will not learn how to be a dog. The pup will not learn how to read the body language of other dogs, nor will it be able to demonstrate appropriate body language in return. If a dog doesn’t know how to socialise with other pups it will develop degrees of anxiety & have conflict depending upon its personality and temperament.
Obviously, this will be a problem which will need care and attention as unsocialised behaviour emerges.
During the 5-8 week period in a puppies life, we give them small tug toys along with obstacles to climb on. we are looking to emerging confidence in every pup regardless of temperament.