Pets, just like humans, pass through different stages in their evolution. Understanding the life cycle of a dog can help you look after it better, and comprehend its needs from day one. It is important to acknowledge that once you bring a puppy in the house it becomes a family member. This means that you need to ensure a proper space and set up a regular meal time.
Exercises are also important and need to be done according to the age in order to help the correct development of the muscles and bones. The more you know about your four-legged friend, the better you can look after it. In order to understand why a dog reacts in a certain way, you must be aware of the main stages of evolution. Its life starts as an embryo and if you ensure proper care, it can reach an old age. Each stage of its life comes with something different, meaning that the needs change.
The behavior and physical features also evolve, so a small puppy can turn into a tall and massive adult. It is important to be aware of all these changes in order to be sure that the breed you choose is appropriate for your family and lifestyle. Not to mention that you need to be able to support the little one throughout the growing process.
In order to have healthy and happy dogs, pet owners need to make sure that everything evolves naturally and in the best way possible starting from the beginning. A pregnant dog needs to be observed and checked regularly in order to make sure that everything is all right, and the puppies develop normally. The dogs evolve pretty fast, and in just 3 weeks, the legs, paws and eyeballs are starting to take shape.
Starting from day 40, their heartbeat becomes noticeable. After day 55, the puppies become very active and the movement increases. This is when the nails, milk teeth, hair and paws appear. Their growth depends directly on their mother’s well-being, but also on the things it eats, thus proper nourishments are mandatory.
After about 63 days of gestation, the puppies are born. This is a happy moment for all pet owners. The puppy stage lasts for 18 months, and it is filled with great and amazing transformations. In order to keep them healthy it is mandatory to keep them close to their mother and siblings for at least 8 weeks after they are born.
Once they are strong enough to be transferred to a loving family, it is time to teach them how to interact with humans, but also with other pets. A complete set of vaccinations is mandatory in order to prevent life-threatening diseases. Here’s a comprehensive article on basic schedules of shots for your puppy to serve as guide, check out the link.
|0 — 2 WEEKS||2 — 4 WEEKS||4 — 12 WEEKS||3 — 6 MONTHS||6 — 18 MONTHS|
|— they are completely blind- they depend on their mother completely- they develop their senses (touch, smell, and taste)||— they open their eyes- the first teeth pop out- they can regulate their body temperature on their own- they start to move gently, first they crawl, then stand and walk||— their senses are more developed- they become more social- they tend to fear everything, thus they must be encouraged to explore things||— they start to develop their behavior- they become more and more energetic- they are more and more social- they become independent
— they experience the growth of the permanent teeth
— it is the right time to start with obedience training
|— they continue to grow- they reach the highest level of energy- they reach sexual maturity|
This is also the time when dogs develop their personality. After about 7 weeks of age, you can determine whether the little one is:
- a bully — it is extremely social and interactive. Though, at a first glance, it appears to be a healthy and joyful little puppy, if it steals the toys from the others or it plays in an aggressive manner, it is the bully type. This dog is perfect for active people who are patient enough to put its agility to good use.
- a rebel — this puppy is engaging, manages to find solutions to any problems fast and is also extremely loving. It is as active as the bullies, but it shows no signs of aggression. As it is eager to share everything with the family, it is perfect for active people;
- an independent thinker — it feels great in the company of other dogs, but it can also have the time of its life by itself. It is not very active and seems to over think its moves. As a result, it is the perfect pet for a family with old or no children as it loves the calmness.
- an eager to please — it is overly attached to the owner and would do anything to receive praises. Though it is very docile, when it does something bad, and it is scold, it interprets it as something it needs to do again in order to receive attention. It can be trained with ease, and this makes it a great companion.
- a relaxed — this puppy manages to find the right balance between playing, sleeping and interacting with the others. However, it can do all of these, but only when it is eager to do it. It seems to sleep all the time, thus it is not a perfect fit for an owner who likes to have everything under control. It copes very well with families with young children.
- a sweetie pie — this puppy is so adorable that you would kiss it all day long. It is docile and passive and would do anything to please its owner. While it is little, it likes to stay close to the mother in order to feel protected. It is perfect for an owner who likes to have a close companion all day long to follow him around the house.
- a timid — this puppy is not fully aware of its potential and this makes it look scare, or even worse, abused. It is totally submissive and requires some time until it gets used to a person and gains trust. The perfect owner is the one who is patient enough to teach it self-esteem. However, the constant fear makes it unsuitable for families with small children.
The adolescent stage is the second dog life cycle. Just like in the case of humans, this is the most difficult and challenging time of the dog’s life. The owner needs to be very patient and understand the changes the dog faces. It is that moment when the puppy is grown up, knows and understands the command, it is well adapted to the house and no longer needs to chew everything.
However, just like teenagers, it would do anything else but obey you. Most of the time it acts like it never heard the commands and keeps challenging you. Furthermore, this is when it starts to feel attracted by dogs of the opposite sex.
The adolescent stage lasts between the ages of 6 to 18 months. Though the pet is officially still a puppy, this is the transition to adulthood. You need to be prepared, as hormones start to kick in and this usually leads to a spoiled behavior. The dog can also be moody and uneager to obey commands. As it grows in size, it requires time to get accustomed to the new body and its strength.
If you feel that it is impossible to control it, the best solution is obedient training. Discipline is extremely important at this stage as the dog can develop some undesirable traits otherwise. Unfortunately, when owners feel that they cannot deal with the dog anymore decide to abandon it in shelters. This is why it is important to understand that this is just a phase, and in no time you will have the best adult dog. To learn more about the right time to train your puppy, click on the link to this topic.
In order to be able to deal with an adolescent dog it is important to remember the following:
- when you cannot keep an eye on it, it is a wise idea to keep it in a gated-off part of the house in order to avoid damages. However, this does not mean that you can leave it there all the time, as you need to encourage it to interact and hang out with the other members of the family;
- exercise several times a day and make sure the dog is tired enough so it won’t have the energy to chew or destroy households. Adolescents are extremely energetic and need to do something to relieve all the stress. It is a good idea to choose large spaces, like a garden or dog park where it can run and jump without getting hurt;
- training needs to be short and challenging, in order to be able to keep it focused. It is important to use treats and toys in order to make it respect the commands. You also need to be very patient, and keep on repeating the same things until it gets it right;
- calmness is a virtue when dealing with adolescent dogs. It is important to understand that the dog sees you as its model, thus you need to be a good example for it. Try to remain calm and gentle even when you insist on obeying the commands.
An adult dog is a fully mature pet. This stage lasts between age 2 and age 7. This is when the pet is fully grown and tends to be independent. At the same time, it is more responsible. However, this does not mean that it forgets about eventual traumatic experiences as a puppy. In order to keep it healthy and fit, it is mandatory to ensure a balanced diet.
Exercises are also important because otherwise the dog can become obese. A great way to keep everything under control is to alternate walks with physical exercises like running or jumping. The best part is that this will also help you stick to a fixed schedule.
While adolescents would do anything for your attention, adults are less demanding. Though they still enjoy your company and love you from the bottom of their heart, they can cope well when they are left alone. They can spend time by themselves without the need to chew or destroy something.
Exercises and playtime remain mandatory, but the dog is more obedient and already knows its routine. If you wish to take training to a different level, you can consider obedience courses. Adult dogs love to be stimulated not only physically, but also psychically. As a result, you won’t find it difficult teaching it new tricks. Our informative piece on various techniques to help train your dog is a must-read, check it out.
In order to have a happy adult dog, consider the following pieces of advice:
- both mental and physical exercises are highly appreciated by adult dogs. This is when you can go a step further and teach it something more than doing number one and two outside. They have a sharp mind so you will be surprised how fast they can learn new tricks;
- though you provide healthy food and follow regular exercise sessions, medical issues can occur. This is why you need to plan annual visits to the veterinarian. Besides the physical checkout, the doctor will also vaccinate it and proceed to dental and heartworm checkout;
- adult dogs have no problem spending time by themselves. However, this does not mean that you can forget about it for days. Belly rubs, licks, and kisses are mandatory daily in order to raise a happy pet.
The senior stage occurs when the dog is between ages 6 and 10. Large breed dogs tend to reach it faster than smaller breeds. You know that your dog is a senior when the muzzle turns gray. It will also tend to move more slowly and will not be as eager to perform exercises.
At this stage, it is a wise idea to stop playing fetch and to go for regular strolls. Its whole habit will change, meaning that it will eat less and sleep more. However, this is not something that needs to concern you. With a bit of schedule adjustment, you can enjoy a happy and pleased pet.
In order to keep your senior dog healthy, it is important to consider the following:
- though the dog won’t eat as it used to be, the lack of intense physical exercises makes it susceptible to weight. In order to prevent this from happening it is important to opt for a low-calorie diet and to adapt the exercises to its needs;
- dental problems are also common. If they are not treated properly they can lead to other serious health issues. As a result, it is advisable to brush its teeth three times a week, or if it does not allow you, to take it to the veterinarian for professional cleaning once in a while;
- dehydration can occur, as the dog tends to drink less water. In order to encourage it to drink, it is a good idea to place the water bowl in an area that can be accessed with ease. If the dog spends time both upstairs and downstairs, you can place a water bowl in both places;
- just like humans, as they get older, dogs are sensitive to weather changes. Furthermore, they tend to feel the heat and the cold more intense, thus proper caution needs to be taken during hot and cold seasons;
- senior dogs tend to lose some of their sight and hearing. In order to manage to communicate with it when this occurs, it is a good idea to teach it visual commands, just in case it gets to lose its sight completely;
- you may need to help it perform activities that it used to do with no problems, like getting on and off the car, or up and down the stairs. Achy joints make senior dogs stiffer, so ramps can be true helping hands;
- when they feel weak, they can develop separation anxiety, thus your dog may feel down when you leave it by itself, and panic can occur;
- the only way to keep it healthy is to assure proper food, meaning less fat and more fiber. Additional vitamins may be needed in order to help it feel better;
- health issues are also more common. The major problems are arthritis, cataracts, dental problems, and in some cases even a form of Alzheimer. In order to help your dog, you need to go for regular checks.
To help you care your senior dog, see our article on tips and guidelines on caring for your old dogs.
It can be concluded that the life cycle of the pets is similar to humans. They tend to be hyper-active when they are young, and calmer when they get older.
However, it is up to you to make sure that it develops beautifully and does not develop any unwanted traits. You need to be prepared to look after it and train it. A balanced diet mixed with physical exercises can keep the pet away from dangerous illnesses. If you take each stage as it is, and you enjoy it with your dog, you will find it easier to overcome any problems. Remember that for it, you are its whole life.