Image by State Library of New South Wales collection via Flickr
You’ve probably heard about dog years and the rule about multiplying your pup’s age by seven to find out its “human age.” While the equation is not completely scientific, we can count on this estimate to explain why puppies go through their terrible twos, childhood and adolescence before they turn one year old. By the time our senior dogs are slowing down at age ten, keep in mind that when multiplied by seven, that’s seventy human years.
Understanding your dog’s fast-paced life is especially important during that first year, when behavioral changes mark rites of passage. Here are some guidelines to help you prepare for what to expect from your puppy. Keep in mind that depending on the breed, some puppies will reach adulthood within a year, and others will continue growing (physically) far beyond their first birthday. Smaller breeds tend to mature faster than larger dogs. Consult with your vet for your breed’s expectations, but here’s a basic first-year timeline to get you started:
1 to 8 weeks: Baby – early development stage; the puppy learns dog behaviors and eventually weans from mom .
8 to 12 weeks: Toddler – human socialization period; puppies are easily frightened and learn from bad experiences.
12 weeks to 6 months: Early Adolescence – the puppy will test the rules; the equivalent of human puberty.
6 months to 1 year: Adolescence/Young Adulthood – the puppy will continue to experiment and test training commands; by now, the puppy is adjusted in the home and part of the family.
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