Why Would a Mother Dog Move One Puppy? (7 Common Reasons)

Mother Dog Move One Puppy

Mother dogs, also known as bitches, are known for their exceptional care and protective nature towards their puppies. It is not uncommon for them to exhibit various behaviors to ensure the safety and well-being of their offspring. One intriguing behavior that may puzzle dog owners is when a mother dog moves one of her puppies.

  • Why would a mother dog move one puppy?
  • A mother dog may move one puppy if she detects a health issue or concern.
  • Moving a puppy to a new location in the wild can help safeguard it from predators or potential dangers.
  • She may be trying to find a better spot where the conditions are more conducive to their well-being.
  • She may move one puppy as a coping mechanism if she becomes overwhelmed or stressed.

In this article, we will explain why a mother dog might move a single puppy and explore the potential factors contributing to this behavior.

Is It Normal For Dogs To Move One Puppy From The Rest?

No, it is not normal when a mother dog moves one puppy from the rest of the litter. Typically, mother dogs are very attentive and protective of their entire litter, keeping them together for warmth, feeding, and care.

Separating a single puppy from the rest can indicate an underlying issue that needs attention.

Why Would a Mother Dog Move One Puppy?

Why Would a Mother Dog Move One Puppy

There could be several reasons why a mother dog may isolate one puppy frome the rest:

1. Medical Concerns

If a mother dog rejecting one puppy it could be a sign that she detects a health issue or concern. It could be that the puppy is exhibiting signs of illness or weakness, prompting the mother to separate it from the rest to prevent the spread of any potential infections.

This behavior can be seen as a protective measure to ensure the overall health of the litter.

2. Natural Instincts and Survival

A mother dog’s primary instinct is to protect her litter and ensure survival. Moving a puppy to a new location in the wild can help safeguard it from predators or potential dangers.

By relocating a single puppy, the mother may be attempting to minimize the risk and secure the survival chances of that particular pup.

3. Creating a Safe Environment

A mother dog is responsible for creating a safe and comfortable environment for her puppies. Sometimes, she may feel that the current nesting area is unsuitable for all her puppies due to temperature, noise, or discomfort.

By moving one puppy, she may be trying to find a better spot where the conditions are more conducive to their well-being.

4. Maternal Bonding

Moving a single puppy can also be attributed to maternal bonding. Mother dogs have an extraordinary sense of smell, allowing them to identify each puppy by its unique scent.

By moving one puppy from the rest of puppies, the mother may reinforce the bond with that particular pup, ensuring individual attention and care.

5. Stress or Overwhelm

Raising a litter of puppies can be physically and emotionally demanding for a mother dog. She may move one puppy as a coping mechanism if she becomes overwhelmed or stressed.

This behavior helps her to reduce the workload temporarily and focus her attention on fewer puppies, allowing her to provide better care and support.

6. Introducing Independence

As puppies grow older, they need to develop independence and self-reliance. Moving a single puppy, the mother dog may encourage it to explore and become more self-sufficient.

This behavior can help the puppy develop vital skills and adapt to different environments, preparing them for life beyond the litter.

7. Environmental Factors

Various environmental factors can influence a mother dog’s decision to move a single puppy. These factors can include changes in temperature, excessive noise, perceived threats, or disruptions to their nesting area.

By relocating a puppy, the mother can adapt to these changing conditions and ensure the safety and well-being of her litter.

Signs Mother Dog Rejecting Puppies

  • The mother dog may stay away from her puppies and avoid interacting with them.
  • She might refuse to nurse the puppies, which is a crucial aspect of motherly care for newborns.
  • When the puppies try to nurse, she may push them away or move to a different location.
  • In some cases, the mother might display aggressive behavior towards her puppies, growling or snapping at them.
  • A rejecting mother dog might appear restless, constantly pacing, or seem uncomfortable around the puppies.
  • She may leave the nest for extended periods, leaving the puppies unattended.
  • The mother might not groom or clean her puppies as she would typically do.
  • The puppies’ cries may not elicit any response from the mother.
 Mother Dog Rejecting Puppies

How To Stop My Dog From Moving Her Puppies

If your dog moves her puppies excessively, it may be due to various reasons, such as anxiety, discomfort, or insecurity. Here are some steps you can take to help her settle and prevent her from moving her puppies too much:

  • Provide a Quiet and Secure Space: Make sure your dog has a quiet, warm, and secure area where she can nurse and care for her puppies. This space should avoid loud noises, distractions, and high-traffic areas.
  • Use a Whelping Box: A whelping box is a specially designed box or area where the mother and her puppies can stay together safely. It helps create a confined and comfortable space, reducing the urge for the mother to move her pups around.
  • Use Familiar Bedding: Place some of the mother’s familiar bedding in the whelping box. The scent will provide reassurance and comfort for both the mother and the puppies.
  • Monitor the Environment: Keep an eye on the room temperature and humidity to ensure it’s optimal for the puppies’ well-being. Make sure it’s not too cold or too hot.
  • Avoid Unnecessary Disturbances: Minimize disruptions and avoid handling the puppies excessively during the first few weeks. Let the mother dog care for them and only intervene for health checks or emergencies if necessary.
  • Provide Adequate Nutrition: A well-fed and healthy mother is likelier to be calm and attentive to her puppies. Ensure she has access to fresh water and a nutritious diet suitable for lactation.
  • Spend Time with the Mother: Spend time with the mother dog, providing gentle reassurance and positive attention. This will help her feel more secure and less anxious.
  • Gradual Socialization: As the puppies grow older, they introduce them to new environments and experiences. This will help build their confidence and make them less reliant on their mother.
  • Consult a Veterinarian: If the mother dog’s behavior seems excessively concerning or you notice any health issues in the puppies, consult a veterinarian for advice and guidance.

Read More From Our Dogs Care Guide:

How Do You Take Care of A Rejected Newborn Puppy?

If a mother dog rejects one or more of her newborn puppies, taking immediate action is essential to ensure their survival.

Here are some steps you can take:

Keep the rejected puppy warm

Newborn puppies cannot regulate their body temperature, so provide a warm and comfortable environment. You can use a heating pad set

Hand-feed the puppy

If the mother is unwilling or unable to nurse the rejected puppy, you’ll need to hand-feed them with a suitable milk replacer formula specifically designed for puppies.

Consult with a veterinarian to discuss the feeding schedule and method.

Stimulate elimination

After feeding, use a soft cloth or cotton ball moistened with warm water to gently stimulate the puppy’s genitals, imitating the mother’s licking to encourage urination and defecation.

Regular veterinary check-ups

Rejected puppies are more vulnerable and require extra attention. Schedule regular visits to a veterinarian to monitor their health and growth and ensure they receive any necessary vaccinations.

Socialization and care

Provide the rejected puppy with a safe, clean space free from drafts and other pets. Ensure they receive regular Socialization, gentle handling, and love and attention.

dog with puppies


Why does my dog keep moving away from her puppies?

There could be several reasons why a mother dog may move away from her puppies. One common reason is to regulate the puppies’ body temperature.

Newborn puppies can’t regulate their body temperature effectively, so the mother may move away to provide them with a cooler or warmer spot.

Some mother dogs may feel anxious or overwhelmed by their puppies and choose to distance themselves temporarily. It’s also possible that the mother dog is experiencing health issues or discomfort, which may cause her to avoid contact with her puppies.

Why would a mother dog eat one of her puppies?

While it is relatively rare, there are instances where a mother dog may eat one of her puppies. This behavior is known as cannibalism and can be distressing to witness.

Several potential reasons for this behavior include maternal stress, nutritional deficiencies, hormonal imbalances, or a lack of instinctual mothering behavior.

It can also occur if a puppy is stillborn or has a serious health issue.

When can I touch a newborn puppy?

Minimizing the handling of newborn puppies during the first week of their lives is generally recommended. During this time, the mother dog needs to establish a strong bond with her puppies, and excessive handling may cause her stress or anxiety.

However, monitoring the puppies’ health and well-being is essential. After the first week, when the puppies are more robust and the mother has become comfortable with her surroundings, you can introduce gentle and supervised handling.

Always ensure your hands are clean before touching the puppies to minimize the risk of transferring any potential infections.

Final Thoughts

Why would a mother dog move one puppy? The behavior of a mother dog moving one puppy can be attributed to a combination of instincts, maternal bonding, and a desire to protect and nurture her litter. From creating a safe environment to addressing potential health concerns, each instance of moving a puppy holds unique significance.

As responsible dog owners, observing and respecting these behaviors is essential, ensuring the well-being of the mother and her puppies.

By understanding and appreciating a mother dog’s instincts, we can better support and care for our furry companions throughout their journey of growth and development.

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