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Weaning a puppy too early: what are the consequences?

Fundamental for the puppy's future life, weaning is a stage that requires a lot of attention. It corresponds to the break between the puppy and his mother, and it is a natural process. But for it to be successful, it must be done in several stages so that the puppy learns to become autonomous and knows how to control himself. Early weaning does not allow the puppy to build up and learn what is necessary for him. In this case, he may develop behavioral problems. Let's take stock.

Early weaning in puppies: the main causes

Many puppies are exposed to early weaning, and the main reasons are the following:
  • Their mother dies while they are still very young,
  • They are rejected by their mother,
  • The bitch does not have enough milk to nurse them for the time needed,
  • The breeder separates the puppy from its mother too early to sell it. By the way, the French law forbids the sale of puppies that are not at least 8 weeks old. Any offender is exposed to legal and financial sanctions.
Weaning is considered premature if it is done on a puppy that is less than 40 days old. It is therefore his master who must take charge of this process if the bitch cannot, and to carry out this takeover successfully, he must respect the different essential steps.

Puppy weaned too early: the consequences

The consequences of early weaning can be seen in the animal's behavior. Thus, we can later deplore :

The absence of socialization

The animal could not integrate the limits and can become dominant. This type of dog is generally dangerous in adulthood because it is unable to obey a coherent order since it does not understand what is expected of it.

The impossibility of self-control

The bitch educates her pups by taking into account the character of each one. She teaches them, without violence of course, to control themselves and to submit when necessary. If they are weaned early, they will become aggressive in adulthood and will not know how to control themselves even when they share games, whether with their fellow dogs or with humans, adults and children.


As soon as the puppy's milk teeth start to come in, he'll chew on anything he finds, including his mother's teats when he's suckling. In these cases, the bitch doesn't hesitate to correct her pup. This correction is an integral part of learning, and it's completely natural. She knows instinctively how to reprimand one of her puppies when he bites his brother or sister too hard.

The mother's role is to teach her offspring to understand the limit and to temper their bites. If weaned too early, the adult dog is likely to become a biter and seriously injure a person because it will be unable to control its strength.

Steps to follow when weaning a puppy

If the weaning of the puppy is assumed by the owner, he must imperatively respect the steps of the process in order to obtain the expected result, namely a dog that knows how to control himself, that does not represent any danger to his environment and does not suffer from any behavioral disorder. Thus, one should not rush things because each puppy is different.
  • At 4 or 5 weeks of age: the puppy can start receiving several small daily rations of wet food. As long as you always give him the same preparation to avoid digestive problems. You can offer him kibble softened with formula or warm water, or a puppy food that contains all the nutrients the animal needs for its development. This allows him to discover solid food.
  • At 5 or 6 weeks of age, he can be given more substantial rations.
  • From about 7 to 8 weeks of age, the puppy can go to 3 or 4 daily rations at the most.
At the same time, the owner must teach his puppy to be independent. To do so, the animal can be left alone for 20 minutes at the beginning, at different times of the day, and this time should be increased significantly throughout the weaning period, at the end of which the animal should be able to stay alone for at least 2 hours. When the dog is weaned by its mother, she teaches her puppies to separate from her little by little, which does not create any trauma. This is essential so that the puppies do not feel this step as a difficult and painful moment. If you go too fast, the dog could be very fearful once it is an adult.

If the owner has to wean his puppies himself, he should seek advice from a veterinarian. This way, the owner will know exactly what basic steps to take to avoid early weaning of his puppies and what food he should give them throughout the process.