Knowing how to wean my (your) litter would be really helpful even when your dog is spayed, who knows when you have to rescue some puppies and become a national Hero.
Either you need to help with a litter that isn’t yours or your dog is now a mother and you’re wondering when is the best moment to wean the puppies and finally separate them from their mother, you’ve come to the right place.
Weaning is the process of gradually reducing the puppies’ dependence on their mother’s milk to start eating dog food. It also implies helping the mother to “dry out” her milk and sometimes even the separation of all the litter.
When Should I Wean My Puppies?
First of all, let’s keep in mind that weaning is a process and not a one-day event in which puppies are simply taken out of their mother’s paws. Even after you learn how to wean my litter, it’ll take some patience.
The litter should remain with its mother during a maximum of 2 months (60 days), the weaning process usually starts at three to four weeks of age and it lasts about 4 weeks.
To make it simple: at 3-4 weeks you’ll start weaning the pups, and it should be finished in the 7th or 8th week.
You may ask why, and the reason is, between the first 3-4 weeks some natural behaviors start to show up between the litter and the mother such as:
- The puppies’ first milk teeth will start erupting.
- When the pups nurse, these piranha-like teeth will start hurting their mother, so she’ll start to avoid doing this frequently.
- We’re gonna take advantage of this natural situation to start the weaning process.
However, if you feel that doing it at the 3rd week is too soon, take it easy and watch carefully the litter’s behavior, it is extremely important for them to spend time together and with their mother.
This is the first contact that they have with the “dog world” and it teaches them how to behave in certain situations. Knowing the right timing to start the process might be one of the most important points on how to wean my litter, well, your litter.
NOTE: An early weaning or just not enough mother-child and litter interaction could lead to many serious problems, I’ll cover that in a future post.
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How to Start Weaning My Puppies
Weaning could be a stressful and ―literally― messy process for both the mother and the litter, it’s your job to make it bearable for everybody. Here’s how to wean your litter in a few steps:
- Never rush the weaning and only start when you see that both parties are willing to start the process.
- Start by taking the mother to a different place during a few hours, say 2 or 3, not more than that since we’re just starting.
- While the pups aren’t with their mother, let them go out if you have a friendly safe environment like a backyard or let them explore your home, puppies are very curious about the world that surrounds them. This will boost their confidence.
- During this phase you’ll start making (cooking) a pulp for them, this should be a mash made from puppy food easy for the puppies to eat. When you’re starting, make sure to include enough water/milk to make it liquid.
- As you progress, make the slurry thicker, see how the pups react, our final goal is to incorporate dry dog food in their diet.
- In the weaning process, the mother may regurgitate food for their litter, relax, this is completely normal, it’s the “mash” that they would eat in nature and that’s the recipe for you to make it!
- You can help the mother to dry out her milk by giving her high-quality food. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to talk about this with your vet since she will be producing the pups’ main food.
- This is a gradual process, you will be gently increasing the daily separation time and food quantity. Pups are fully weaned at the 8th week, that is, two months.
What We Learned Today | How to Wean My Litter
- Weaning a litter is a process that takes a lot of patience, love, and dedication.
- You’re the best judge to decide when to start, but it’s usually during the 3rd or 4th week.
- Weaning a litter takes approximately one month, so the pups should be fully weaned around the 7th-8th week.
- The mother’s sometimes overlooked in favor of the litter, don’t do this. All the dogs deserve your attention and love, this is also a psychological phase for her.
- Even after knowing all the theory about how to wean my litter, every puppy has a different pace, so be patient with them and their mother.
- Taking away the litter or doing it too early is the worst thing that you can do. The litter should remain with the mother until at least 50-60 days.