When it comes to paternal instincts, dogs don't make exemplary dads that are worth bragging about. While mama dog spends day and night catering to the pups, papa dog seems lost in his own world. To make things worse, some dads even become intrusive, putting unnecessary stress on mama dog who only wants to do her job and protect her pups. Keeping dad away for a while will make things much easier on mother and pups.
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Day 1: Hormones at Play
As much as you may feel tempted to let papa dog meet his newborn pups, you may want to skip this ritual. Most likely mama dog will greet him with a flashy display of her pearly whites. You can't blame her. If mama dog has become unapproachable just after giving birth, blame the hormone prolactin instead. Before giving birth, mama dog's progesterone levels abruptly drop, while the levels of prolactin rise. These hormonal changes are responsible for those nesting and protective maternal behaviors, according to the American Kennel Club Breeder's Handbook.
Day 2: No Trespassing
As a couple of days go by, you still want to hold off introductions for some time. Born deaf and blind, puppies are literally helpless little beings and need all the protection they can get from their mama. Also, consider that mama dog may feel compelled to get up to send papa away and, while doing this, may inadvertently step on one of her pups. With pups so small, your introduction may easily turn into a tragedy.
Day 7: Use Caution
During the first week, puppies are still for the most part sleeping and feeding machines. They still can't see or hear, so there's really no point in letting them meet dad during this stage. Mama dog will also likely still be very watchful and stressed from any interference. Remember to always put mama dog's welfare and the safety of her pups first. As per papa dog's emotions, don't worry; he won't get offended if he must wait a little longer.
Day 14: Keep the Kids Safe
You may feel tempted to introduce puppies to daddy as soon as they start seeing, hearing and walking in a wobbly fashion. Yet, they're still vulnerable beings at this stage, and mama dog may still not feel safe in letting them meet dad. Skip introducing daddy for now and work instead on introducing novel stimuli such as plastic milk bottles, knotted towels and cardboard boxes along with new walkable surfaces such as wood, carpet, concrete and linoleum.
Day 30: Green Light
Mama dog ultimately knows best when the pups are ready to meet daddy so let her decide when to call the shots and give you the green light. Most mama dogs won't probably want Rover anywhere around their pups until they have turned at least 4 weeks old, explains veterinarian Glenn Craft. Start off by taking the pups one by one and allowing them to meet daddy if he's eager to meet them. Once the puppies are weaned, they can then romp and play with him but always under your watchful eye.
Day 30: Yellow Light, Red Light
Don't keep your hopes too high on the big day papa gets to meet his pups. Chances are, he may be quite indifferent to mama dog and the pups or he may even be flat-out nasty.This isn't unusual, so be prepared for the worst and use caution. Having a father-and-son relationship doesn't necessarily translate into a peaceful encounter; unfortunately, attacks on the pups are not unheard of, says Bonnie V. G. Beaver in the book "Canine Behavior: Insights and Answers."
A Small Detour
If you ever wondered what happened to Rover's paternal instincts and familial obligations, most likely he lost them along the way once domestication took place. Yes, he may enjoy playing with the pups and he may sometimes act as a role model, but that interest isn't probably much different from the interest generated from nonrelated pups. Most likely, Rover doesn't even sense that the puppies are his, Jeffrey Moussaief Masson says in the book "The Emperor's Embrace: Reflections on Animal Families and Fatherhood."
By Adrienne Farricelli
American Kennel Club: Breeder's Handbook Maternal Behavior
Psychology Today: Psychology Today: Why are Are Puppies Born With Their Eyes and Ears Closed?
All About Goldens: Preparing For Dog Birth
Diamonds in the Ruff: Developmental Stages and Socialization
"Dogs: The Ultimate Care Guide: Good Health, Loving Care, Maximum Longevity;" Matthew Hoffman
"The Emperor's Embrace: Reflections on Animal Families and Fatherhood;" Jeffrey Moussaief Masson
"Simon & Schuster's Guide to Dogs;" Simon & Schuster
"Canine Behavior: Insights and Answers;" Bonnie V. G. Beaver
About the Author
Adrienne Farricelli has been writing for magazines, books and online publications since 2005. She specializes in canine topics, previously working for the American Animal Hospital Association and receiving certification from the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers. Her articles have appeared in "USA Today," "The APDT Chronicle of the Dog" and "Every Dog Magazine." She also contributed a chapter in the book " Puppy Socialization - An Insider's Guide to Dog Behavioral Fitness" by Caryl Wolff.