Dr. Dieter Fleig is a leading canine behaviorist. He has published many articles regarding puppy-to-human
bonding. His research indicates that the best time for a puppy to leave it's littermates is 8 weeks. Some
people criticize breeders who let puppies leave at 8 weeks of age, indicating that the breeder is not being responsible.
However, Dr. Fleig's research shows that, in the wild, fundamental change occurs at 7 weeks of age. Until then,
the dam has been the center of the pup's world. But, at 7 weeks, the dam will suddenly withdraw from the puppies,
leaving their care to the sire.
Starting the 8th week in the wild, a new phase of life begins for puppies. The sire takes over
full responsibility for the puppy's training and development. Since we don't want our puppies to be trained as
they would be in the wild, this is the perfect time to substitute human care and nurturing. By transferring the responsibility
to the pup's new owners at 8 weeks of age, we take full advantage of the pup's newly developed learning ability. The
new owner will be responsible for the pup's care and well-being over it's entire life, and can take over the pup's development just
at the beginning of the socialization phase.
At this point in their lives, it is very important that puppies have human interaction . Normal interplay
amongst puppies will include possessive behavior, play-fighting, and learning of pack hierarchy. It is EXACTLY at this
time that exposure to human rules should be included, so that puppies learn acceptable behavior - if you were to watch
a litter of puppies at 8wks of age, their play-fighting would make you think they were about to kill each other. However,
this interaction teaches them that, when fighting, to defend themselves, but also that they can get hurt. This
play-fighting also helps to deflect natural aggression and teaches cooperative behavior. They also learn when to stop short
of inflicting injury.
In this period, during the imprint of final socialization in the 'human/dog pack', the puppy can learn house-training,
compatibility with children, and adaptability to their human's life. Waiting longer than 8 weeks to begin these
lessons can restrict the puppy's ability to EVER fully understand/accept human socialization.
Dr. Dieter Fleig, author "The Technique of Breeding Better Dogs". Dr. Fleig is a world authority on dogs and has
been involved in all things "Dog" for more than 50 years. He has been an owner, breeder, and dog show judge.