The Internet efficiently propagates a lot of notions that may not be solidly reasoned. Having raised a great many litters, I can speak from experience and careful observation. Invariably, a female GSD will start circling in the whelping box at about 3 and a half or four weeks after sh+
e has given birth to a litter. She is doing this to prevent the pups from feeding from her very sore nipples. To this point, the pups suckle about every 2 hours. As they develop, their teeth are literally like razors. Their paws develop needle-like nails. They pump the breast with their front paws, scratching the breast while their teeth cause abrasions to the nipple. When the process is too painful for the mother, she circles or jumps out of the box. There have been times when we put (human) baby diaper rash cream on raw, bleeding breasts. This is the point at which we start to supplement feeding with goat’s milk to give the mother a rest. We change the constant feeding to 3 times per day. By the sixth week, the pup is weaned from the mother by adding beef broth and later puppy chow to the milk using a blender. I’ve had Vets ask me about weening, what’s the rush? No rush. But you might want to interview a few mom dogs about that question!
We are frequently asked about what we do to socialize the pups. The better, more relevant question should be: “What do you do to de-socialize the pup to stop jump-up?” It is actually the primary task of the new owner. Our pups are very sweet and friendly. They view everything and every person as a play thing. This is the origin of annoying jump-up activity. KraftwerkK9 has a training video on ending this problem.
Focusing solely on the issue of socializing, I instruct my clients to do the following to teach the pup that not everyone they will encounter is a toy or play buddy. Once the pup has had its second round of vaccinations, at about 12 weeks, it is safe to let other people be near them. Put a jacket on the pup that reads “pup in training, do not touch”. Go to a big box retail store and stand at the entrance for about an hour with the pup on “platz” (lay down) command. Let the people coming in and out pass without interaction with the pup. She will quickly learn that not everyone is a play pal.