Down South Westies
...Home of beautiful, loving, West Highland White Terriers!

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How To Socialize Westie Pups!

Birth Through Week Two 

Puppies need their mom and the other littermates. They can’t regulate their own body temperature very well, so they must have a warm place to sleep. We keep the temp in the Whelping Room about 85 degrees the first 2 weeks. They don’t do much except sleep and nurse. We handle them sparingly during the first two weeks.         

Week Three Through Four  

We lower the Whelping Room temp to 78 degrees. They begin wobbly walking. Their eyes are usually open around day 14-16 and their ears by day 21. They now have the ability to form an attachment to humans so we gently handle them often. We supervise all handling and our grand children are allowed to sit on the floor and hold the puppies.  We give daily individual attention to each puppy, getting him or her accustomed to positive human interaction. We begin teaching them to lap milk mixed with baby cereal beginning with week three. It is just another part of the socialization process…carefully handling the puppies.

Week Five Through Eight

The mother will be in the process of weaning the puppies and we let her do her job. The puppies get individual attention throughout the day and are able to run with mom in the fenced yard with our supervision. At this age, they enjoy being held and need lots of attention. Mom allows them to nurse only a few minutes daily. They are eating Nutro Natural Choice Lamb and Rice Puppy Food! They have massive appetites. 

The puppy is also learning other very crucial skills at this age. He’s learning to speak “dog.”  He’s learning social skills that will enable him to interpret unspoken messages from other dogs and give appropriate replies. Things like calming signals (a kind of a friendly, submissive gesture) are learned at this time, and this will help your pup to communicate with other dogs all through his life. If he is removed from the litter unequipped with this vital information, he could possibly get “picked on” or attacked frequently by other dogs when they don’t receive the information they need from him. If he doesn’t “speak the language”, it will be hard for him to express himself. He could also become a  “bully” himself, because he won’t understand the signals  to  “back off” that the other dogs are giving him. This could also lead to a nasty fight.

Your New Pup…Your Responsibility!

You have picked up your new pup by now and the journey begins!  You now take over the role of being the “mother” to your new puppy.

To make the first few nights easier on your new puppy, we recommend allowing the puppy to be VERY near you. Those first few nights should hold as little trauma as absolutely possible.  If you shut up your puppy away from you when you get home with him, he’s going to assume he’s been LOST or abandoned, and will cry to be rescued. You merely have to assure him that he simply has a new home, with a human parent, and that you can  be just as loving and comforting as his real mother (almost).  

The puppy is experiencing his FEAR IMPRINT PERIOD between 8 and 9 weeks of age, and any traumatic encounters will stay with the puppy for his entire lifetime if you allow them to occur. Be extremely cautious during this time. The key is to try to allow the pup to experience all kinds of different sights, sounds, smells, all kinds of people, places, and things.

NOW is when you should begin training your puppy. DO NOT wait until  he is 6 months old.  The puppy is a  learning “SPONGE” at this age, and to not give him structured training is to allow him to learn BAD habits. Puppies have a full adult brain at 49 days of age. There is absolutely no reason to wait longer than that to teach the puppy proper behavior. It is much easier to install correct behaviors than to let the puppy grow up like a wild savage and then try to “untrain” the bad behavior later!

Socialization is the KEY to a well-adjusted, calm, and happy dog. Training is great too, but contrary to the old “wives tale,” you CAN teach an old dog new tricks. You can’t, however, give an old dog the socialization he should have gotten as a puppy.