puppy_litter.jpgEver wondered why your furry friend is exhibiting destructive behavior, like barking too much or play biting? While a lot of factors can contribute to problems like these, a new study from Veterinary Record shows that one possible reason for this is your doggie's early separation from his litter. According to the research done in Italy, puppies who stay with their litters for less than two months are more prone to developing behavioral problems as adults.

A group of veterinarians surveyed owners of 140 dogs. Half of the pets were taken from their litters at 30 to 40 days, the other half at 60 days. The results showed that regardless of breed, size, and sterilization status, dogs who were separated from their moms and littermates at a younger age exhibited more problematic behaviors. In particular, there was a significant difference between the first and second group in terms of excessive barking, toy possessiveness, attention-seeking, aversion to strangers, destructiveness, and play biting.

"It is generally accepted that dogs go through a sensitive period, the socialization period, during which social experiences and stimuli have a greater affect on the development of their temperament and behaviors than if they occur later in life," the authors of the study explain. "Early separation from the dam (dog mother) and littermates, especially when combined with housing in a pet shop, might affect the capacity of a puppy to adapt to new environmental conditions and social relationships later in life."

So as cute as your prospective fur baby might be in those first couple of months, don't take him away from his mom or sibs too young. Give him time to learn how to socialize with others and just come to visit him--often, if you can--before you finally take him home as a well-adjusted puppy.

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(Photo by washies via Flickr Creative Commons)
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