Bringing home a pet dog is a big commitment – you need to be ready to look after them for the rest of their life. Depending on the breed, this could be a long time – some breeds have an average lifespan of up to twenty years! So, when you make that commitment, it’s important to be prepared for the different stages your new friend will go through.
When they’re first born, puppies are blind, deaf and toothless. They spend most of their time sleeping or nursing. Around two to four weeks in, they should open their ears and eyes, start taking their first wobbly walks, and begin to explore the world. Their baby teeth should all be in by about five to six weeks, and they’ll also begin play-biting – so watch out for your fingers!
They shouldn’t be taken away from their mothers until at least seven weeks of age; at this point they should begin the human socialisation stage, and you can begin house training and socialisation with people.
At around eight to eleven weeks, puppies often go through what is called the “fear impact” period; this is a stage during which unpleasant experiences can have a particularly serious adverse effect on the dog’s development, so make sure that their environment is carefully controlled.
Socialisation with other dogs is also important during the puppy stage – but only once they have had all their vaccinations.
Just like people, dogs go through a puberty stage, and just like people they can be a little bratty about it! They may stop responding to commands, refuse to learn and generally behave badly. Patience at this stage is key; keep up with their training schedule, and remember that (just like teenagers) they will grow out of it!
If you have a female dog, you need to ensure that she’s kept away from male dogs when she comes into heat; even if you do plan to breed from her, you won’t want to do so the first time around.
If you aren’t planning to breed from your dog, this is the time to consult your vet about spaying or neutering them – but remember this is not an instant fix for any teenage behaviour they’re displaying.
Different breeds will reach maturity at different stages; smaller breeds tend to mature earlier than big dogs.
Your canine companion is now at the peak of their life – they’re young, energetic, full of beans and ready to take on advanced training like agility if that’s what you’re planning.
Maintain regular check-ups with the vet, and enjoy spending time with your pal!
Again, it will depend on the breed as to when your dog might be considered “senior”; you’ll notice that they don’t have as much energy as they used to, and they may start to go grey around the muzzle. Just like people, their sight and hearing might suffer as they age, as do their joints. They won’t want to run around as much, and you’ll need to balance diet and exercise carefully to manage their weight. Make sure you don’t startle them if their senses are failing – approach them a little more slowly, don’t wake them suddenly and avoid nasty surprises.
It’s even more important at this stage to keep up with regular veterinary checks so that you can ensure your dog enjoys good health well into their old age. However, don’t think that just because they’re older they won’t appreciate training – you really can teach old dogs new tricks.
Whatever stage your dog is at, here at Dog School we offer a range of services from puppy training classes to dog walking to help you and your faithful friend get the very best out of your life together. For more information, get in touch with us on 07821 543388 today.