Puppies are undoubtedly the cutest, and getting the chance to see one grow into a full-fledged adult is an exciting experience that no other moment in your life could ever come near. From the second they enter this world, to their very first baby steps, all the way to running happily across the dog park with all his new pooch friends–it’s a dream that we dog owners share and wish to come true. It all starts at humble beginnings, however, at a moment when they still stumble, fall, and need all the help and guidance they can get from their mom and you to grow.
With that in mind, the very next phase of puppy development requires independence, a moment when they are beginning to wean from their mothers and begin their first steps towards becoming a bigger and stronger dog. So, this short 7-step guide has been prepared to educate you on how to start weaning puppies and steer their growth in the right direction. But let’s first discover what “weaning” actually means before we move any further towards these seven steps!
What is “Weaning”?
By definition, weaning implies accustoming to food other than the milk of its mother, and in the context of puppies, it is the gradual process of puppies growing accustomed to puppy food rather than depending on the milk of their mother.
While the milk of their mother is filled with healthful nutrients that are equipped to make them strong, it is only natural for puppies to start steering away from this over dependency and start eating real food. Not only for their growth, but also the mother’s health concerns, because starting too late can cause milk overproduction and lead to the dog’s mother health problems which we should always prevent as much as possible.
Weaning is best introduced a few weeks after, and around week three or four is the most optimal time to start this process, as the puppies will also be more willing to seek for new food if encouraged. So, knowing that your puppy is in the best time to proceed to the next stage of puppy growth, here are the seven most significant steps that you will have to take to guarantee a successful weaning process:
7 Steps on How to Begin Weaning Puppies
1. Introduce Them to Puppy Food
The first and basic phase of weaning puppies is, to gradually introduce them to puppy food from week 3 onwards. You can do this by merely preparing a distinct bowl filled with puppy food or formula, mixed with some milk and water so that your puppies can slowly start to acquire the taste of puppy food. You can slowly but surely begin to decrease the quantity of milk or water you mix with the puppy food until their diet consists of completely dry kibble or puppy food choice.
Keep in mind that this is a slow but very important process, so don’t take things too fast. Your puppy will begin with a bit of curiosity, but they will surely enjoy the heck out of puppy food given enough time and help. They don’t have the biggest of stomachs though so you may need to divide their puppy food eating times into four different small meals for the whole day.
2. Always Keep Water Ready
Next, there is the prospect of keeping water ready no matter what the situation turns out to be because water is essential for growth, other than for hydration purposes. Water helps greatly with chowing down on puppy food because these little pups have been so used to the milk of their mother that they need some additional assistance to moist the dry kibble they are expected to move to. And having a bowl of clean, fresh water not only keeps them healthy but also encourages them to take a sip or two to assist eat and digest all the new food.
Water is also beneficial in the broader sense because of its hydration, of course, and after a day of running around and tumbling so often, any puppy will have to drink some clean, fresh water easily. Water makes the transition from milk to puppy food much easier because they wouldn’t have to look for their mom to quench their thirst and now they can only rely on the clean, fresh water that you always set up every day!
3. Separate Them from Mommy
The third step towards a successful weaning process for puppies is to separate them from their mommy so that they can start feeling independent and need not constantly search for their parent. Puppies are babies at the end of the day, and when they can’t find mommy, they will start whining and begin to get rowdy about where their mom might be hiding. All this is for a good reason, however, and it is to encourage the puppies to try the puppy food rather than returning to their mother’s milk by default.
While this will not occur overnight magically, moving the mother dog to another portion of the house, taking her on walks, and separation during puppy feeding time will significantly assist the weaning process. And you can expect the puppies to become very powerful and autonomous through this.
4. Monitor Your Puppies
The fourth step is to monitory your puppies, not everyone’s experience with weaning puppies will be the same, and that is perfectly fine and normal. A little variation is the only standard in the world, and the solution is to cope with variety and make sure you monitor your puppy; the changes that occur, the amount of food he eats, his behavior, stools, and much more.
By monitoring all the adjustments and milestones that your puppy will create, not only will it make the trip a lot more fun, it will also offer you a more comprehensive look at the growth and journey of your puppy throughout the weaning phase.
This monitoring sheet and notes will also serve as great reference material for the veterinarian if ever they will need to examine and diagnose your puppy to check on their health conditions. Overall, keep an eye on your puppy as being observant is an important trait to becoming a responsible dog-owner.
5. Help Keep Them Clean
Weaning puppies from their mother can get pretty messy because they won’t know how to handle themselves properly by then, which is why it is also very important that you help keep them clean and look out for themselves.
Messes generally occur when they try puppy food mixed with some milk formula or water-moistened, they may end up playing with their food, or they may get some messed their coat while attempting their utmost to eat. Again, they’re only puppies and still need some guidance, so it’s perfectly normal for them to be clumsy and klutz like that–but it’s up to us as an owner to make sure they’re in perfect condition.
Just make sure to keep a close eye on them during feeding time and to check them up now and then to ensure that they didn’t end up getting themselves into a mess while you weren’t looking.
6. Stay Consistent
As always, there are no techniques for suddenly instilling habits, forcing growth, or becoming an utterly distinct thing or individual, and the same logic applies to weaning puppies. It’s a long and slow process that will require a lot of time and effort before you can start seeing any of the fruits of your work.
It is important to understand that you need to stay consistent and don’t back out immediately you don’t start getting results in just a day or two. Stay consistent with the program, and ultimately, all of these outcomes will begin to show up and trickle one by one.
Be the responsible dog owner you are and do this for the sake of your puppies who will someday grow into big strong dogs who will remain loyal companions by your side forever!
7. Adjust and Go at Their Pace
Every dog and puppy is different, and not one of them will share the same speed and duration when weaning. While others will get the hang of it immediately after a few days or even nearly a week. On the other side of the spectrum, some puppies will probably go through the whole course of weaning for weeks on end. The significant thing to take from this is to adjust and go at their speed, enjoy the adventure of weaning with your puppies, and you’ll hardly ever notice how long it took!
Let your puppy grow properly and see to it that they get the full benefits of growth throughout this weaning process.
In Summary: Guide Your Puppy’s Growth
To sum up, weaning puppies is an important step towards moving to the next stage of growing and developing puppies, and to ensure the successful weaning process, you need to step in and guide your puppies.
There are seven easy steps you need to take and these are: introduce puppy food, always have water ready, separate the puppies from their mommy from time to time, monitor them, watch out for their hygiene, stay consistent, and adjust to the pace of your puppy.
You are well on your path to becoming a very responsible dog owner who helped his puppies start eating puppy food successfully by following these seven simple steps!