Puppy Training – How Early Separation Can Lead to Puppy Learning Disorders


Training a puppy can be a difficult, yet rewarding task. If done properly, you will be rewarded with a loyal friend for life. If done improperly, it can lead to frustration on both the part of the dog and the owner. One of the leading causes of learning disabilities in puppies is not due to defective genes or breeds, but to early separation from the dog’s mother. Because dogs have a much shorter life span than humans, they mature and learn at a much faster rate. A puppy learns more in the first 6 months of its life than it does in the remaining years. To break it down even further, many of the dog obedience training basics are not taught by the owner or trainer, but by the puppy’s mother.

In a natural environment, a puppy learns about social structures such as pack leader, dominance, etc from its mother at a very young age. The puppy learns that there are appropriate places to go to the bathroom, appropriate ways to act around the pack leader, and more importantly, patience. If a puppy is separated from its mother too soon, many of these vital skills are not taught and can make the foundation for training much more difficult to establish. Furthermore, a puppy with separation anxiety, generally brought on by early separation from its mother, will exhibit more aggressive behavior, destructive behavior such as chewing or scratching, or nuisance barking or howling.

So how do you know when it is too soon to separate a puppy from its mother? The general rule of thumb is that a puppy should not be separated before eight weeks, but it could be longer if certain signs are prevalent. These signs include, but are not limited to, abnormal dependence on the mother or failure to conform to social norms within the pack. If these signs are evident, the puppy still needs more time with the mother before being made available for adoption. Once a puppy begins to exhibit independent behavior, it is a good indicator that he is ready for adoption and will have better success during the training process.

Even once the puppy is separated from its mother, it still needs just as much love and attention as it got when it was inside the family unit. Its mother used to respond to its every whine and whimper, and in order to keep the puppy’s self esteem high, it will require you to do the same until it feels comfortable with you. Once you have created this bond however, the dog will see you as the one in charge and will respond better to your voice commands, function better in your home, and be less likely to develop separation anxiety when you leave the home.

David Starikov is a dog obedience training expert. His website, www.dog-training-assistant.com offers a selection of dog training books and related resources to aid in training your puppy.

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