Weaning refers to that period between the first solid food and the end of nursing. With commercial puppy foods available, weaning should start at about three weeks of age. A large litter extracts a tremendous amount of energy and nutrients from the mother during the third and fourth weeks and the more the puppies take from a dish the less they require from their mother.
Mix the puppy food of your choice with water in a shallow dish. API plate is about right. Allow the food to soak up as much water as it will and then crush it with a fork, adding more water to make a gruel-like consistency. Place the dish on the puppy pen floor and push the puppies’ noses in it. At first, the puppies appear to be trying to draw it up with a nursing action. They lick their chops and poke their noses in it again. After they have eaten as much as they want and have walked through the food and become a general mess, permit the mother to come in and lick them clean. She will finish the puppy food too. Feed the puppies three times a day and let the mother clean up each time. After the third day, the puppies will look forward to each meal. Pupy foods have extra milk solids so additional milk is unnecessary. You can feed your puppies three times a day until they are three months old, always using the same formula.
By the time the puppies are five weeks old they can be on their own, although it may be kinder to a mother with a large milk supply to permit a few puppies to nurse once daily after the five weeks for another week.
When weaning has been completed, from five weeks onward, you will have eased the puppies off dependence on their dam and her milk secretions will diminish naturally. But if you suddenly have to remove the puppies, or lose them, she will still dry up in a natural way. You need not bind her breasts, rub them with camphorated oil, or massage or milk them. As a normal transition, the udder will become inflamed. A hormone action stops milk secretion, and after a time the inflammation will gradually decrease. If you do rub the breasts with oil, the secretion will subside but not because of the medication. We have tried massaging and oiling only one side of a heavy milk producer’s udder and have found that both sides dry up at the same rate.
The newly weaned Puppy weaned at five weeks of age are ready to be placed in new homes. This is particularly important in breeds such as Shetland Sheepdogs, where socialization at a tender age with people results in an outgoing, well – adjusted pet. But if not given this early exposure they may be shy all their lives. And many shy, fearful, biting adult dogs became that way because of inadequate handling and affection when they were a young impressionable age.
Some states have enacted legislation making it illegal to dispose of puppy under eight weeks of age. We feel that this is the result of misguided if well-intentioned legislators. Puppies cannot receive amuse individual attention as parts of a litter as they can in new homes, where each is the center of attraction. Not only is this legislation disservice to the puppy but also to the person who has to clean up after it for two or more unnecessary additional weeks.
A shy puppy needs more than handling, cuddling, and kindness; it needs exposure to strange noise and activity as often as possible. Taking it along on trips to noisy, busy places on a regular basis underscores your frequent reassurances that there is no danger. For any four – to sixteen – week – old puppy, we cannot overemphasize the importance of handling and affection.

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