Q: I have put a deposit on a cocker puppy but, as I live in a town and will have to walk it where other people take their dogs out, I was told not to pick it up until after it has had all its puppy vaccinations. Will that have a negative effect on its training or should I get it earlier and keep it confined to the garden for the first few weeks?
A: I have always tried to pick up my new puppies at eight weeks or very soon after. This, I believe, is the optimum time to be able to become a replacement parent for the puppy and to begin forming a close bond with it. Usually they have not begun their vaccination programme and I leave it to my vet to advise on the best age to start and finish the course of injections. It has usually been at nine and 12 weeks, then I wait a further week before exposing the puppy to areas where other dogs are being taken for exercise.
From eight weeks until 13 weeks, puppies do not need vast amounts of exercise. Instead, lots of play and attention in the garden, coupled with a good balanced diet, will keep them happy and healthy. Those extra four weeks that you intend to leave it means it will have grown substantially and be more active and perhaps more difficult to settle into the new environment. If the breeder has parted with all its siblings at eight weeks it may have been isolated for that interim period. This could have a negative impact at a crucial stage in its life. My advice is to pick it up as soon after eight weeks as possible to give you both the best chance of a close and happy life together.