March 4, 2015

How do dogs develop from puppy to adulthood?

We all know that dogs start as these adorable little puff balls and grow to be a reliable companion, but what exactly is going on in between? What can you expect as your puppy grows into a teenager, adult, and then senior?

Prenatal: The mother’s nutrition and emotions have an impact on her developing puppies. If the mother was malnourished or stressed out during her pregnancy, you may end up with puppies that have emotional and/or behavioral issues.

Birth -approx. 3 weeks: During this time, the puppy’s vision and hearing develop, and he begins to walk.

3 weeks –approx. 16 weeks: This is the socialization period for the puppy. The puppy explores her environment and this is the most important time to expose a puppy to lots of different people and situations in a positive way. During this time is also the fear period (around 8-10 weeks), and traumatic experiences can cause lifelong problems. Most people get a puppy around this period, and it is a great time to give your puppy safe social experiences!

12 weeks –sexual maturity (6-9 months): The puppy is now considered a juvenile, and is becoming more independent. Permanent teeth come in around 4 months –goodbye sharp puppy teeth! This is a period where you may see lots of chewing as your puppy is teething. Most veterinarians recommend spaying or neutering your puppy around 4-6 months.

Sexual maturity –2-3 years: The puppy is now an adolescent or teenager. She may be mature in size (most puppies stop growing around 1 year old), but she is not mature in social skills, and this is a great time to prevent and manage undesirable behaviors. Exercise is also important during this stage.

2-3 years –7+ years: You and your dog have survived the puppy and adolescent stages and reached adulthood! Play and training are still important to keep your dog’s mind sharp and to practice skills.

7+ years: Depending on his size, your dog is considered a senior around this age. Keep an eye out for things like arthritis, declining vision or hearing, andyou should take your dog to the vet at least every year, though some vets recommend every 6 months to catch any problems sooner.Play and training are also still important in this stage, to keep your dog’s mind sharp and to practice skills, though the play and training may be at a reduced level than previous years.

Information Source: Doggie 101 program with Communicate with your Dog
Photo Credit: smerikal via Compfight cc

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