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Hey there, hoping you guys can help.

My sister's dog recently had a litter and she picked one out that she thought she wanted to keep. Well, the puppies are four weeks old now and she's starting to handle them more to make sure they are well socialized before they go to their new homes. The issue is, the one she had picked out as originally liking the best seems to have the worst personality of the bunch.

She cries constantly when she is being held or handled, squirming to be let down, squealing loudly, and scratching surprising hard for something so tiny. She doesn't like being touched, held, cuddled, or sitting on your lap. She's quiet and perfectly calm in the basket, when alone or with her siblings/mom. None of her siblings have this problem and actually seem to enjoy the attention, usually relaxing enough to fall asleep right in my sister's arms. Not so with this one. And it's not just my sister, I can't handle her either and neither can our mother.

Is this just a phase she'll grow out of? I've never seen a puppy this young with an issue like that; it's not like she's ever been hurt or mistreated, so we've no idea where it's coming from. At what age would something like this become a permanent character trait? Is it still early enough to correct with training?
 

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Puppies aren't cognitively aware until 2-3 weeks. Any behavior before that is not indicative of their adult personality.

It's generally accepted that for most breeds, 2-3 years is the age of full maturity. Some breeds (usually smaller ones) will mature more quickly, some take much longer.

From what I've seen and heard from breeders, you will start seeing more solidified personality traits around 6 weeks, and by 8 weeks they will have become more defined. Most service dog organizations I know of will do their first behavioral evaluation at 7 or 8 weeks. BUT, a dog's personality can be incredibly plastic & influenced by experience during their first few years.

If you're choosing a puppy before 6-8 weeks old, you're doing yourself a disservice, IMO.
 

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Perhaps also suggest that your sister moves more slowly with the handling; and just stroke the puppy until they feel safe and stay within the puppies comfort zone. Someone will have the puppy, even if not your sister, and it will be best if she gives the puppy the best chance at feeling secure.


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