Italian researchers say that puppies separated from their litter too early have substantially higher odds of developing behavioral problems.
A study was conducted with 140 dogs, with half removed from the litter at 30-40 days, and the other half allowed a full two months before being sent to new homes. Dogs were tracked for up to seven years – all were patients of Naple veterinary clinics. Results were collected via follow-up phone surveys.
Their findings: regardless of breed, size, or sterilization status, those dogs removed from litters before 2 months were significantly more likely to exhibit abnormal or problematic behavioral patterns.
The good news: early intervention still works. Nipping undesired behaviors in the bud is effective, and sets the foundation for a dog/owner relationship that works in the long term. It’s not a stretch to say that the findings of this study could eventually have a positive impact on the number of dogs relinquished each year for behavior problems.
In other words, if you plan on bringing a new puppy into your home, be patient – and urge your breeder to do the same.
Read the study in its entirety here.