There are very few things in this world that are more precious than a tiny puppy. Their little waddles, innocent faces and boundless energy melt the heart instantaneously. At East Valley Animal Hospital in Gilbert, Arizona, we advocate adopting your new pup from a shelter or similar non-profit. In many cases, you not only save one life, but two since the adoption makes room for another dog at the shelter. Although it can take some time to find a puppy at a shelter, it is possible, and is well worth the wait!

Whether you adopt or get your new puppy from a responsible breeder, they are guaranteed to be a handful and there is a lot to know about their care before you make the commitment. One important factor is the age at which it’s appropriate to separate a puppy from their mom and siblings. Adopting a puppy too early or too late can create problems for your miniature, four-legged friend. So at what age should you adopt a puppy?

(Introducing an older dog to your new puppy? READ this blog).

A Puppy’s First 8 Weeks

In the first eight weeks of your puppy’s life, he is learning precious skills that only other dogs can teach him. As they play with their littermates they begin to practice healthy dog behaviors like fighting, hunting, catching, sexual activity, and guarding behaviors. Research also suggests that when puppies are taken before the age of seven weeks, they are more likely to display problematic behaviors when they become adults like destructiveness, excessive barking, fearfulness on walks, reactivity to noises, and toy and food possessiveness.

You should never adopt a puppy—unless it is without a mother and litter—before they fully wean and begin to eat only solid food. This age will vary based on a few factors, but it is generally between 3 to 5 weeks. If they have no mother but still have brothers and sisters, it is still good to keep them together for several weeks.

Socializing a Puppy

The next stage of a puppy’s life is the socialization period between the ages of 6-12 weeks. This is when puppies are learning how to understand the world around them and grow comfortable with it (or fearful of it). Some breeders like to keep puppies through the end of this stage in order to assure they have been given a good start to life. However, it’s generally agreed upon that the puppy should spend the majority of this time with their new family where they can, hopefully, be positively socialized in that environment.

What Is The Ideal Age to Get a Puppy?

With all this in mind, the recommended age for adopting a new puppy is 7 to 9 weeks. As you’ve read, in the first several weeks they learn valuable life lessons about how to be a dog, and in the following several weeks they learn to socialize with humans and bond to their new owner. When either of these crucial periods are missed or cut short, a puppy may grow into an adult dog that is not well-adjusted to life.

At East Valley Animal Hospital, we don’t just care for pets, we advocate for their best lives. If you are looking for a new vet in Gilbert or have questions about getting a puppy from a breeder or shelter, give us a call: 480-568-2462.


Photo by Jametlene Reskp on Unsplash (7/10/2020)