When Can Puppies Sleep Away From Mom?

It can be difficult to figure out when the best time is to separate a puppy from its mother. But, animal experts tend to agree that puppies should not be separated from their mothers any earlier than 8-12 weeks. While every situation is different, this is a great rule to follow if you’re unsure about separating a family.

When considering when can puppies sleep away from their mom, there are a few tips and tricks to raising puppies, separating them from their mom, and helping them adjust to their independence that should make the process as easy as possible. 

when can puppies sleep away from mom
When can puppies sleep away from mom?

Keep reading to explore some of the best ways to keep the mother and puppies happy at all times and your life as stress-free as possible. 

At What Age Can You Separate Puppies From Mom?

The ideal age to separate puppies from their mom is eight and 12 weeks. But, it is important to remember that every situation is different. In some dog family dynamics, the mom may play a more reserved role, fostering independent puppies that seem ready to sleep on their own before the eight-week minimum.

In other situations, you may feel that a puppy is too young or immature, even at 12 weeks, to start spending the night away from its mother. No hard and fast rule says you must separate them at 12 weeks. But, you’re likely to find that the longer they stay together, the less interest the mother has in nursing or caring for her puppies’ every need. 

three Golden Retriever puppies
Golden Retriever puppies playing on the grass together.

The Benefits of Waiting Before Separating Puppy From Mom

While it may be more convenient for you or a future owner, there are several important reasons to keep a puppy and its mother together. 

For the first few weeks of their life, newborn puppies cannot care for any of their daily needs. They’re born with their eyes closed. They can’t hear or walk after they are born as well.

They can also nap around 22 hours a day. 

They also need to eat every two hours, which is much easier to take care of if the puppy’s mother is nearby. It’s important to spend time around your puppy or puppies during this period but refrain from picking them up more than necessary. You should also return the puppy to its mother if she or the puppy seems upset.


Feeding is perhaps the most obvious and one of the most important reasons to keep puppies and their mother together for as long as you can. The mothers provide their young puppies with vital nutrition through their milk. Various scientific studies have shown that a puppy’s mother’s milk contains the ideal nutrition to grow healthy. 

Boxer feeds her puppies
A mother Boxer feeds her puppies on the grass.

While some artificial milk substitutes work well in emergencies and when the mother is nowhere to be found, it is still not the same as mothers’ milk. 

Puppies and mothers must stay together within the first days and weeks of a litter’s birth. Puppies receive crucial antibodies and hormones that help them grow healthfully.

Within four or so weeks of its life, a puppy is ready to spend long periods without feeding, around five or six hours. Only after they are around six weeks old are they fully weaned. Finally, at 8 to 12 weeks, they eat more during the day than at night – this means it can separate a puppy from its mother to sleep.


Mothers fill several crucial roles in a new puppy’s life, including bathing and grooming. Young puppies are almost entirely helpless. The first days and even weeks of their lives are spent sleeping and eating.

mother dog grooms puppy
Mother dog as parent grooms her puppy by licking its coat.

Bathing themselves or caring for daily hygiene is impossible when they’re this small. 

The mother is responsible for cleaning them, licking their entire bodies, and even helping them urinate and defecate. Again this can be reproduced artificially or with your help, but the puppy’s mother will almost always do a better job. 

Love and Socialization

While it may not be the first thing that comes to mind, it is important not to overlook socialization as a reason to keep puppies and mothers together. The first weeks of a puppy’s life are the mother’s only chance to teach her young everything they need to know to survive – this includes physical survival, avoiding dangers, and meeting the new puppies’ emotional needs.

Chihuahua puppies
Chihuahua puppies on a bench.

As with a human child, puppies flourish when they are exposed to a mother’s caring touch. This is enhanced when there is more than one puppy in the litter. By keeping them together, they can learn from one another, form friendships, and understand what it’s like to be around other animals. 

This may be crucial if you’re planning to adopt the puppies to a home with other animals. Knowing a prospective pet gets along with other animals is one of the most crucial requirements for many adopters. 

The First Nights Away From Mom

Unfortunately, just because a puppy has reached the ideal age of 8 to 12 weeks doesn’t mean they are entirely ready to be separated from its mom. 

All Puppies Are Different

All puppies are different; with experience, you will learn when an individual is ready to have more independence. Or, perhaps, when a puppy needs another week or two to spend more time with its mother.

Australian Shepherd and owner
The owner cuddles with her Australian Shepherd puppy.

Separation Anxiety

It’s also important to remember that just because you have waited the requisite 12 weeks to separate a mom and puppy doesn’t mean that the puppy, or the mother, is going to be particularly happy about it. 

Sheepadoodle puppy lying on the grass
A Sheepadoodle puppy lying on the grass.

You may find that the first night the puppy sleeps away from their mother, they experience separation anxiety. This may mean you hear howling, whining, and even barking until the puppy settles to sleep.

Transitioning a Puppy Away From Mom

If you know it’s time to start moving a puppy or two away from their mother there are a few things you can do to make the transition as smooth as possible. But, keep in mind that every situation is different, and you may have to adapt to what your dogs need. 

Give the Puppy Lots of Attention

On the first few nights, a puppy is away from its mother, it may miss the attention and comfort it would’ve otherwise received. It should be easy for you to replace this attention with some of your own.

an owner kisses a tiny Basenji puppy
Kissing an incredibly small Basenji puppy!

Keep a Calm Mood

One of the most important things you can do for your puppy on the first few nights they’re separated from their mom is to keep a calm mood. Animals feed off of human emotions. So, if you are expressing concern or worry, the puppy will likely pick up on it.

Golden Retriever puppy collar
Golden Retriever puppy with a red collar lying on a comfortable pillow.

Make sure to do everything you can to make their environment as soothing as possible.

Create a Regular Schedule 

Creating and keeping a regular schedule is crucial to maintaining a healthy dynamic in your home. If you change your nightly routine, including the time of day that the puppy goes into their crate, it is going to be much more tricky to get them adjusted to this new routine. When creating a routine for your puppy, you should:

  • Try to go to bed at the same time every night.
  • Feed your puppy at the same time.
  • Put your puppy in its crate at the same time every night.
  • Ensure your puppy has the same items in its crate every night.
  • Try to get up at the same time every morning and ensure your puppy does the same.
puppy eats
Puppy enjoys eating his wet food.

Use a Hot Water Bottle 

The hot water bottle trick is a fantastic way to help soothe your puppy if they’re feeling anxious away from the mother. The hot water bottle stimulates the warmth of their mother and can help them feel calm and relaxed in the middle of the night.

short haired brown puppy sleeping in a crate
Short haired brown puppy fast asleep in a comfy kennel

Put Toys and Blankets in Their Crate

Ensure to provide your puppy with comforting items, like blankets and favorite toys, when they’re spending the night away from their mom. This will allow them to sleep comfortably and be surrounded by items with her scent

German Shepherd puppy in its crate
A German Shepherd puppy in its crate.

So, When Can Puppies Sleep Away From Mom?

So, when can puppies sleep away from mom? All puppies must be separated from their mother at some point. Animal experts agree that around 8-12 weeks is the proper time to let a puppy sleep away from its mother.

But, it’s important to remember that all puppies are different. Just because one puppy is ready doesn’t mean another in the litter is. 

There are many reasons to keep a mother and puppies together for as long as possible, including fostering socialization, the nutritional benefits of the mother’s milk, and grooming. But, eventually, you’ll have to make the transition. 

There are a few simple ways you can make the transition easier for a young puppy sleeping away from its mother for the first time. This includes:

  • Keeping a calm environment.
  • Providing the puppy with familiar toys and blankets.
  • Using a hot water bottle for comfort.

While it may seem intimidating at first, helping a puppy adjust to its first few nights away from mom can be a fairly easy task! Just take it slow and provide comfort when they need it.