How to Pick a Puppy from a Litter at 4 weeks

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How to Pick a Puppy from a Litter at 4 weeks

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Choosing a puppy is a mammoth decision to make. You are opening your doors to a member of the family who will stick around for almost two decades. A wrong choice will cause your family pain, disappointment, and fulfillment.  On the flip side, a good puppy will bring nothing but joy. How do you pick a puppy from a litter? Well, you can wait until the little ones reach 8-10 weeks as you study them occasionally. However, when the breeder asks you to come in and take your pick at 4 weeks, where do you start? Is it viable in the first place? Well, we will tell you all the tips and strategies of picking a puppy from a litter at 4 weeks.

The Typical Time to Pick a Puppy

If you’ve done a little research about picking puppies from the breeder, you probably know that the recommended time is 9 weeks. Other breeders and wannabe pet parents wait until the puppies turn 10 weeks. You can also get a puppy at 8 weeks if the breeder sees it fit. The reason is simple; at 9 weeks a puppy has attained pretty much all the major milestones. She can eat well, she is weaned off her mother’s milk, and she pretty much understands the world around her. If she is raised by a good breeder, she is already socialized to people and other dogs and has been exposed to a wide range of sounds, sights, and smells. That means they can handle a lot of noises and things without freaking out.

While most puppies are ready to be adopted into new homes at 9 weeks, some still need the warmth of their old home a while longer. These include those that have anxiety for one reason or the other. Tiny breeds such as Chihuahuas, Bichon Frises, and Pappilons tend to have fragile bodies and remain with the breeder past 10 weeks. Two or three weeks can make a huge difference.

The Challenge of Picking a Puppy at Four Weeks

A four-week-old is technically a baby. There’s no reason to separate her from her canine family unless you have to. Here’s why.

1. They still need to be socialized

Socialization takes place from 6-14 weeks. This is when the little doggie learns what goes on around her. She should interact with people, stimuli, other pets, and several environmental factors without being anxious. The period helps her to understand how to be confident, well-mannered, and affectionate around humans. A puppy that is less than four weeks of age is a long way from learning socialization skills. This is the reason puppies that leave their mother and littermates too early tend to display fear, aggression, withdrawal, and self-esteem issues.

2. The puppy still has a lot to learn from the mother

While humans have a part to play when it comes to the behavior of the puppy, they cannot compare to her mother. Mom communicates with her little ones right from the womb and outside. During the first month of their lives, puppies depend on their mothers for everything including eating, elimination, warmth, and protection among others. After four weeks, the mom begins to show support, encourage independence, teach survival tricks, and direct her puppies. This means that at only four weeks, the puppy is just beginning to get vital lessons from mummy.

3. House training challenges

Most puppies, no matter how well they have been trained to use the potty, tend to mess up when they arrive in a new environment. The horror of being stripped away from his dog family and seeing a new environment for the first time can lead to loose bladders. However, younger puppies exhibit housetraining problems more than their older counterparts. At this point, the bladder is not developed enough to hold urine for a longer time. When the puppy needs to go, she will just go. If you are not ready to deal with this problem, wait one more month.

4. Judging personality is difficult

The number one factor that aspiring pet owners use to pick a dog from a litter is temperament. You’ll hear stories such as, “the dog chose me” or “she was the first to walk up to me and lick my toes.” Others visit the breeders and watch the behavior of littermates. Those that are into playful dogs will choose active and fun puppies from the litter. Else, if they want a laid-back, quiet puppy, they will go for the one with the same traits.

The problem with this theory is that puppies don’t display their temperaments at the age of four weeks. A month-old puppy is practically a baby that doesn’t even understand her world better.  The puppy will show her true temperament at about 7-8 weeks. Sure, you can get a hint of what is to come but don’t count on it so much.

5. Legal implications

Did you know that 15 out of 28 states in America don’t allow the selling of underage puppies? There are laws that ban breeders from giving away dogs under 8 weeks to their clients in exchange for money. The laws apply to commercial businessmen including pet stores, breeders, and pet dealers. By buying a 4-week old puppy from any of these outlets, you can get your breeder in trouble.

How to Pick a Puppy from a Litter at 4 weeks

Every pet parent knows that a four-week-old still belongs with the breeder but if you must pick one then, here are a few tips of success.

a). Insist on meeting the parents

The puppy’s parents can tell you more about your puppy than you’ll ever know, no matter the age. Even if you are picking an 8-week-old, don’t skip this step. For one, the puppy’s folks will let you in on the puppy’s health. Generally, healthy dogs produce healthy puppies. Apart from health, a puppy’s parents can give a sneak peek of her temperament. If the mom acts nervous and aggressive, the puppy may display the same behaviors when she’s older.

b). The breeder knows better

Your breeder has more insight into all the puppies than anyone else. They spend time cleaning them, making sure they are fed, watching them relate with one another, and basically watching them grow. To know more about each puppy in the litter, have a lengthy conversation with the breeder. Hopefully, they will dispense all the information on all puppies without holding back.

c). Spend time with the puppies

As explained before, personality traits don’t come around until a puppy is about 7 weeks of age. However, at four weeks, a puppy may show you something. If you spend enough time at the breeder, puppies from one litter may act differently. Some may be a tad more playful than others. Keep in mind that this may change as the dog grows so don’t rely on this so much.

d). Examine the pups

This applies to all puppies even four-week-old ones. To know if the little one has any health issues, make a point of examining them. Lift the puppy and find out if they are underweight, normal weight, or overweight. Their ears, eyes, and genital areas should not be inflamed or have a discharge. Check if they can hear and see. Your breeder should help with this.

Parting Thoughts

Choosing a puppy from a litter is hard in itself. Picking one at four weeks is downright difficult. It comes with a ton of challenges that can affect the puppy for the rest of her life. If you have an option to wait a little longer, go for it.

As you wait to pick your new puppy, consider getting a printable planner to help you write down all the information about the puppy. This way, you can reach out for it anytime you want. There are situations when you will need a sitter, a friend, a relative, or a neighbor to watch over your puppy. When that happens, the person can use the information on the planner to best take care of the dog in your absence. Check out the printable here.

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Sable M. is a canine chef, professional pet blogger, and proud owner of two male dogs. I have been an animal lover all my life, with dogs holding a special place in my heart. Initially, I created this blog to share recipes, tips, and any relevant information on healthy homemade dog treats. But because of my unrelenting passion to make a difference in the world of dogs, I have expanded the blog’s scope to include the best information and recommendations about everything dog lovers need to know about their canine friends’ health and wellbeing. My mission now is to find the most helpful content on anything related to dogs and share it with fellow hardworking hound lovers. While everything I share is in line with the latest evidence-based veterinarian health guidelines, nothing should be construed as veterinary advice. Please contact your vet in all matters regarding your Fido’s health.