When Do Dogs Grow Out of the Puppy Stage?by Chris Miksen
Puppyhood is that magical time in your canine's life where he loves to be around you, sleeps a lot and tries to be as cautious as possible. Cherish the time, because after puppyhood comes adolescence, and that's an entirely different beast to deal with. The time spent in puppyhood depends mostly on your little guy's breed.
Puppyhood vs. Adolescence
Mention puppyhood and some people might think that means ripped couches, holey backyards and disobedient furballs. While canines stuck in puppyhood often tear couches into pieces, they're actually fairly obedient. While in the puppyhood stage, your canine will typically follow you around, cautiously approach things, listen to commands the first time -- as long as he knows them -- and he'll often be less destructive than he will in the adolescent stage. If you've got a puppy in adolescence, he's more independent, doesn't much care what you think or say half the time, will act out by jumping on people, make your backyard look like an excavation project, bark and growl at things he never used to and generally act like a terror.
Let's say you have a 5-month-old Maltese and a 5-month-old German shepherd. Maybe you don't want to judge your furry friends, but the Maltese will almost always be more mature at this point than the shepherd. Smaller dogs reach their adult size faster than big-pawed pups, and they grow out of puppyhood faster too. So while your shepherd might eagerly follow you around and sit when you give the command, your Maltese will leave your side more often, sniff out interesting things, bark randomly and act much different than she did just a month or two earlier.
Teething and Biting
Sorry, small canines, you've lost your maturity advantage when it comes to teething. All breeds begin and end teething around the same time, usually around 3 to 7 months of age, so typically within the puppyhood stage, although smaller breeds will be transitioning into adolescence at the end. Teething marks a very uncomfortable point in your little guy's life. Chewing helps ease the pain of those new adult teeth poking through, so you'll often experience a crazy furball chewing everything, including you. There's no way to avoid the excessive mouthing and biting that accompanies the teething process, but make it easier on yourself and your possessions by giving your puppy tons of appropriate things to chew on. Good options include frozen washcloths, rubber chews, bones and hardy cloth toys, such as those made of multiple materials and multiple layers of stitching. When your puppy mouths you, replace your hand with one of his toys, or make a loud noise and ignore him for 20 seconds so that he realizes biting people is not allowed.
There's a reason dog food is often split into age groups, such as puppies, adults and seniors. Puppies won't get the nutrients they need to grow big and healthy if they chow down on adult food. PetPlace.com suggests feeding puppy food to your little guy until he reaches about 80 to 90 percent of his expected adult weight, or until about 12 to 18 months if you've got a giant breed canine running through your house. Alternatively, you can pick up a bag of all life stages dog food. Have a chat with your vet to make the best decision for your pup's health.
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