This is probably our most asked question other than the price of our puppies. At what age do puppies go home? The quick and easiest answer is at 8 weeks of age.
Not Too Early
Now the 8 week rule is generally for large breed dogs. Smaller toy breed dogs go home between 8-12 weeks of age. Golden retrievers are a large breed canine. We recommend and send our puppies home at 8 weeks. Picking the optimal time is important for the growth of a puppy. Too early, or even too late can create social issues. Studies have shown that puppies who go home too early can have increased aggression, anxiety and more. Between 6-12 weeks of age, a puppy is learning to be a dog. They also learn to be aware of their environment and recognize a social relationship with humans. Between 6-8 weeks it is very important that a puppy learn to be around their siblings and mother. Puppies learn discipline from their mother, as well as hierarchy. They learn to play, socialize, posture (box), vocalization, do what dogs do and even play bite.
Learning to bite their siblings helps to establish that a bite does cause an unwanted pain. They learn to control their bite. We can never forget that puppies are very oral. Being sent home too early, a puppy will have to learn bite inhibition on a human family member. That’s not a fun route. I personally believe that some dogs who bite later in life lacked the necessary socialization in the first weeks of life.
At the Same Time
It’s also necessary to send them home together. I’ve seen puppies that remain with us longer, especially ones by themselves obtain social issues. Since we have adults in our home, a puppy who remains with us for a longer period of time tries to adapt to the adults. They begin to become more dominant than they would have if they had gone home the same time as the rest. It is our goal to send puppies home at the same timeframe give a take few days. In the past we’ve held onto puppies for a longer of period of time. However, if a puppy parent is not ready in the correct timeframe it is best to wait till another litter. We want our puppies to go home at a proper time and that will hopefully lead to a properly socialized pup.
Not too Late
Puppies also need to not go to their homes too late. It’s not as crucial as sending a puppy home to early, but it’s still important. Between the 6-12 week window it’s important to socialize with humans. That’s the time they will bond to their puppy parents. We feel it’s necessary to definitely be going to their homes well before 12 weeks of age. It’s also an important time to begin training. Training will also be an important bonding activity. Additionally in the 6-12 week window it is important to introduce puppies to environmental cues. Introducing them to different objects, sounds, and people will help to reduce anxiety and fears.
A Few Exceptions
Now their are a few exceptions. Sometimes an alpha pup may pick on other pups. Whereas we try and deal with that, pups can be sent home early or later than the intended time. However this is rare. I’ve also heard of some breeders sending their puppies home early because they got giardiasis or coccidiosis. It’s easier to get rid of the parasite if they are in separate homes, rather than reinfecting themselves in groups.
Other exceptions are in situations where extra training is necessary before they go home. Some dogs do go on to become service dogs. They do go through extensive training which can take months to go through. This is something that is generally planned in advance.
Anyway, thank you for taking the time to read through this post. We hope it helps answer your question.