Looking at getting a puppy, and wondering what age is best to bring them home? Let’s discuss all your options.
It is important to consider what age to get a puppy because the age at which a puppy is brought home can have a significant impact on their development and behavior.
Different ages come with their own unique advantages and challenges, and choosing the right age for a puppy can set them up for a successful and happy life with their new family. We know about the struggles with teething and with toilet training, but are there any other bumps in the road?
In this post, we’ll discuss what factors you need to use to decide what’s best for brining home your new pup and what age they should be.
Most puppies come home at 8 weeks, this is because it’s a nice time to separate the litter as they’re consistently eating solid food and coming into their own. Typically they come home with their first set of vaccinations which helps us keep them safe in their new home.
But this doesn’t make it the best time. Actually, it’s a pretty inconvenient time in most instances – because most puppies are actually entering the first fear phase at this stage which makes it just a little awkward when trying to adjust them to new owners, young children and family members.
you’d be surprised what breeds you’ll find at shelters, big possibility you absolutely could find a cute dalmatian at a rescue…
The legal age at which a puppy can be taken home varies by state and country. In most states, puppies can be adopted or bought at eight weeks old. However, some places have laws that require puppies to be at least 10 or 12 weeks old before they can be seperated from their litter.
These laws are in place to ensure that puppies are given enough time to develop social and behavioral skills, as well as receive important vaccinations. It’s important to check the local laws in your state to determine the specific age requirements for bringing a puppy home
Before 8 Weeks
As a trainer and someone who’s studied canine development, I can categorically say it’s unethical to remove a puppy from their litter for any reason before 8 weeks.
Some unethical breeders will suggest that “it’s okay because mum’s rejectecting them” or “They nor drinking their mother’s milk anymore, they can go”. But please believe me when I say that’s actually a normal part of puppyhood. When puppy gets teeth, and is being a bother, mum starts removing herself, and they start feeding on gruel, and moving onto solids!
This is not a reason to remove them from their litter. So, please be aware that this is just a con, and should not be listened to and could be a sign that this is a puppy mill.
if you bring home a border collie, be ready for a smart dog and an active lifestyle
Benefits of getting a young puppy (8-12 weeks old)
Bringing home a young puppy between 8-12 weeks of age has several benefits, which can contribute to a strong relationship between the owner and the puppy, as well as better behavioral development. Some of the key benefits include:
Easier socialization: Young puppies are more receptive to new experiences, environments, and social situations. This stage is critical for developing their confidence and social skills. Introducing them to various people, animals, and environments during this period can help prevent fear or aggression-related issues in the future.
Early training: Young puppies are typically more eager to learn and can pick up on basic obedience training more easily than older dogs. Starting house training and basic commands during this period can help set the foundation for a well-behaved dog.
Stronger bonding: Bringing a puppy home at a young age allows for the development of a strong bond between the owner and the puppy. This close relationship can lead to a stronger attachment and trust, which is essential for successful training and a happy life together.
Habituation: Young puppies can more easily adapt to the routines and household norms, making it simpler for them to become a part of the family unit. They can learn the household rules and adapt to the daily schedule during this formative period.
Longer companionship: Adopting a puppy at a young age allows for the maximum amount of time to be spent together, creating a lifetime of memories and experiences.
While there are numerous benefits to bringing home a young puppy, it is essential to remember that they also require a significant amount of time, attention, and patience to help them develop into well-adjusted and happy adult dogs.
a great dane is surprisingly docile and easy going for such a large dog – but you want to make sure that you’re getting a really nicely bred one for health issues particularly
Benefits of getting an adolescent puppy (4-12 months old)
I’m actually a big fan of getting a 4 month old pup, or older puppies generally. Usually, they’re in a bolder phase (meaning they’ll adjust to a new environment easily…) which means that instead of it being immensely tough for the first few weeks, it’s more of a good time and much less stressful the first time they’re home. have the basics of toilet training, and they’re at a size that they’re significantly less work.
You may, however, have to deal with the teething aspect as that tends to be around 4 months.
Giving an adolescent puppy (4-12 months old) a home can also have several benefits. Here are some of the advantages of bringing home a young dog:
Easier to predict temperament: Adolescent puppies have already developed some of their personality traits, which can make it easier to predict their temperament and behavior. This can help potential owners choose a puppy that suits their lifestyle and household.
More independence: Adolescent puppies require less constant supervision than young puppies, as they are able to control their bladder and have developed some level of self-control. They can also entertain themselves for longer periods of time, allowing for more flexibility in the owner’s schedule.
More energy and playfulness: Adolescent puppies have a lot of energy and love to play, making them great companions for active families without the consequence of overtiredness looming quite so heavily. They are also more likely to engage in interactive play and learn new tricks and behaviors.
Socialization opportunities: Adolescent puppies are still in the critical socialization period, which means they can benefit from continued exposure to new people, animals, and environments. This period can be extended until they reach around 16 weeks, which means that those who adopt an adolescent puppy still have the opportunity to socialize them effectively.
Less training required: Adolescent puppies may have already learned some basic obedience commands, making it easier for owners to continue their training. They may also be less prone to destructive behavior than younger puppies.
It’s important to note that adolescent puppies may require more patience and understanding than adult dogs, as they are still learning and developing. Additionally, adolescent puppies may experience a second fear period, usually around 6-14 months old, which can cause them to become fearful or anxious. However, with proper training and socialization, adolescent puppies can develop into well-adjusted and happy adult dogs.
However, just be aware that teenage is a really fun period too and comes with it’s own set of issues.
counter surfing sucks, and it would be great to know what you’re getting before you get it, right?
Benefits of getting an adult dog (1-8 years old)
Adopting an adult dog has several benefits, some of which are:
Adult dogs are usually more settled and calmer, making them easier to train and manage. They know what they want and how to get it, and are less likely to exhibit destructive behavior than puppies, and they’ll have already decided most of their genetic behavioral issues by this stage.
Adopting an adult dog is more affordable than buying a puppy. Most adoption fees are between $9 and $300, and your new pet will likely be vaccinated, fixed, and microchipped.
An adult dog is often already housetrained (though you may see some regression due to stress or new environments), or at least has the physical ability to hold bowels and bladder for longer periods of time and can usually learn appropriate bathroom habits quickly with proper management and training. Plus, an adult dog only needs to be fed once or twice a day, whereas young puppies need lunch as well as breakfast and dinner.
These are just a few of the many benefits of adopting an adult dog. In addition, owning a dog has been shown to decrease stress and can enrich your life.
Benefits Of Getting A Senior Dog
Adopting a senior dog has many benefits. One benefit is that it allows you to ease into pet parenthood without the overwhelming care and attention that a puppy needs. Senior dogs are often already trained and socialized, making them easier to integrate into your home.
Additionally, adopting a senior dog gives them a second chance to live out their life to the fullest and potentially saves them from euthanasia. Senior dogs are often more likely to be house-trained and less likely to be destructive when left alone. They may also have a well-documented history, including whether they have lived happily with children or other pets.
Adopting a senior dog means that you are providing them with much-needed love and care in their later years, when they are often abandoned due to medical expenses or because their owners found themselves in a hard season.
young dogs are fun, but they’re a lot of extra work
Factors to consider before choosing a puppy
Choosing a puppy is an exciting decision, but it’s important to carefully consider a few key factors before making your choice. Here are some things to consider:
Breed: Different breeds have different characteristics and needs. Consider your lifestyle and whether a particular breed will fit into it. Are you looking for a high-energy dog that loves to run and play, or a more laid-back breed that enjoys lounging around the house? Do you have enough space for a larger breed, or would a smaller dog be a better fit?
Time commitment: Puppies require a significant time commitment for training, socialization, and exercise. Are you able to devote the time necessary to raise a happy, well-behaved puppy? If you work long hours or travel frequently, you may want to consider adopting an older dog that requires less attention.
Cost: The initial cost of purchasing or adopting a puppy is just the beginning. You’ll also need to factor in ongoing expenses such as food, veterinary care, grooming, and toys. Make sure you’re prepared for the financial commitment of raising a puppy.
Living situation: Consider whether your living situation is suitable for a puppy. Do you own your home or rent? If you rent, does your landlord allow pets? Do you have a yard or access to outdoor space for your puppy to play and exercise?
Allergies: If you or someone in your household has allergies, consider whether a particular breed will trigger those allergies. You’ll also note that doodles are not always “Hypoallergenic”, they’re usually “Low allergy” but all dogs will always produce some dander and carry dirt/grass seeds from outside.
By carefully considering these factors, you can choose a puppy that is the right fit for your lifestyle and family.
Adapting your choice based on breed
The best age to bring home a puppy varies based on breed. Dogs age based on size and breed, so the dog-years-to-human-years equation is more about weight than age, and brining home a 7yo great dane will be different to brining home a 7 year old australian shepherd, and different again to bringing home a labrador puppy.
Most veterinarians, trainers and good breeder would put the optimum age to bring home a puppy somewhere between 8-to-10 weeks old.
Rescues have a surprising number of purebred dogs in them, and you might just get wha you’re looking for, so long as you don’t need it today.
Tips for finding the right puppy at the right age
The best way to find a puppy at the right age is to consult with ethical dog breeders or visit a local animal shelter. A responsible breeder will have a good understanding of the breed’s development and can provide guidance on the best age to bring home a puppy. They will also provide you with information on the puppy’s health, temperament, and any necessary vaccinations or medical treatment.
Animal shelters often have puppies of various breeds and ages available for adoption. They will typically have a veterinarian on staff who can provide guidance on the puppy’s age and health, and they may also offer spaying/neutering services and other necessary medical treatments.
When looking for a puppy, be sure to do your research and choose a responsible breeders or animal shelter. You can also consult with your veterinarian or trainer for recommendations.
And remember that puppies also fail from guide dog and police dog training… just saying!!
Even a rescue can be a bad rescue, so make sure you research the facility before bringing puppy home!!
Note: Positive reinforcement is always required
No matter what dog or puppy you get, no matter how frustrated we might get in the first weeks, no matter how overwhelmed we get with our new dog – it’s always best to avoid punishment and shouting. All dogs can and will learn from positive reinforcement (rewarding them for the right behaviour) sometimes it’s just a case of understanding how to set that situation up. Keep training sessions short. It’ll be a lot of work regardless of whatever dog, but giving a dog a forever homes to a dogs is really important – and you can’t get there without training.
If you’re struggling, it might be a good idea to get in touch with a professional dog trainer to ensure that we start things off on the right paw – no matter what age our dog is!
This Choice Isn’t Easy
In conclusion, determining the best age to bring home a puppy depends on various factors, such as breed, health, and specific recommendations from a vet, trainer or breeder – as well as when is an ideal time for you! Most experts agree that 8-to-10 weeks old is an ideal age for puppies to transition to their new homes.
Moreover, finding a reputable breeder or animal shelter is crucial in this process – and I cannot stress that enough. Remember, the age of the puppy is just one aspect to consider when welcoming a new furry companion into your life. Take the time to evaluate your lifestyle, living situation, and commitment to providing the necessary care and attention to ensure a happy and healthy life for your new four-legged friend. Happy puppy hunting — just make sure we avoid supporting puppy mills.
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Author, Ali Smith
Ali Smith is the Positive Puppy Expert, dog trainer and is the founder of Rebarkable. She is passionate about helping puppy parents get things right, right from the start. To help create a puppy capable of being a confident and adaptable family member and keep puppies out of shelters.
Ali has won multiple awards for her dog training, and has had her blog (this blog!) rated as 2021 & 2022 worlds’ best pet blog!
Thanks to depositphotos.com for the images!