Getting a new puppy is one of the most exciting events that dog lovers experience, but it’s not without its challenges.
Late nights, potty accidents, and damaged shoes are typical with a new little one. On the other hand, so are the snuggles, too-big paws, and playtimes.
A dog’s lifespan is divided into three phases: puppy, adult, and senior. Puppies have specific needs, including a special diet and extra blankets, and most furry babies won’t have the attention span for training until at least eight weeks old.
So when is a dog no longer a puppy and thus can be considered fully grown?
It’s important to note this transition because you’ll want to change your dog’s diet and routine.
Here are six key indicators that your puppy is growing up, as hard as it can be to admit.
Newborn puppies depend entirely on their moms; their eyes are shut, their movements are limited, and their bodies can only tolerate their mother’s milk.
They are so small that they can’t even regulate their body heat, so puppies stick close to their litter and mom.
In most cases, pet owners can take their new puppy home when it’s eight weeks of age.
At eight weeks, puppies should have completed the weaning process and can tolerate softened puppy kibble.
Between eight-to-twelve weeks, no matter its breed, your new puppy will still be small and clumsy, requiring extra support and supervision.
So when does a puppy become a dog?
Your pup will continue to grow and develop, and most small and medium breeds are considered fully grown at 12 months.
However, some large and giant breeds (those weighing 50 pounds or more) aren’t fully developed until two years old.
You should feed your puppy several meals a day at eight weeks old, and you may wonder when puppies can start eating hard food.
While you can add solid food at eight weeks, not all dog foods are created equal.
Puppy food has extra calories and supplemental vitamins and minerals your fuzzy pal needs to grow.
For the first few months, puppies will need four puppy-sized meals a day — be sure to stick to regular times so your puppy gets used to a reliable feeding schedule.
Around three months old, you can begin reducing your pup’s meals to three times a day.
Monitor your puppy’s food intake to make sure they handle the switch to eating solid foods and adjust accordingly over the next few months.
Most dogs are spayed or neutered between six and nine months; this procedure will slow your puppy’s metabolism, and you can probably switch to two meals a day.
You can also begin introducing adult dog food around this age, but there’s no rush. Large breeds take longer to develop physically, so you can stick to the puppy food until your little one is at least a year old.
Puppies need a lot of sleep — many snooze up to 20 hours daily. Their bodies are growing, and the process demands a lot of rest.
However, when puppies are awake, they’ll be extra playful. Expect many rounds of zoomies. Puppies are curious and will test their boundaries.
This phase doesn’t last forever, so give them plenty of playtime and attention when needed; you can also begin introducing some essential boundaries and simple commands.
Small breeds will calm down around six months of age, while larger breeds will likely continue to act out until they reach at least a year.
Spaying or neutering your puppy will also help level off its energy levels. As your puppy matures, usually around one year, it should noticeably calm down (though larger breeds may extend this phase to two years of age).
You’ll observe some behavioral changes as your puppy becomes an adult or reaches maturity.
Young puppies (those aged three weeks to three months) need plenty of socialization with people and other dogs.
Puppies are getting used to the world around them, and it can be scary, so it’s natural for them to approach new situations cautiously.
Introduce your puppy to different sounds and experiences (like driving in the car, having its nails cut, and visiting the veterinarian).
Puppies must get used to these situations at a young age. Otherwise, they could grow into overly anxious or fearful adult dogs.
When practicing a new experience, stay calm and bring extra treats. Your puppy will respond accordingly and remember it as a positive experience.
Different-sized breeds will enter their teenage years at different times.
Small dogs usually begin producing hormones around six months, and larger dogs are closer to ten months.
There are some signs your puppy has grown into a young dog; it will still be playful but may push boundaries.
Teenage dogs can be destructive and won’t want to listen to you. Approach these changes with patience and hold consistent expectations.
When your puppy begins teething, it’s a clear sign that it’s growing up.
Puppies begin growing their adult teeth around four months of age — though it does vary based on the breed. You’ll notice that some of your puppy’s baby teeth will begin falling out (much like a human child’s teeth).
Growing new teeth is uncomfortable.
Your puppy will begin chewing on everything to help ease discomfort in its gums. So, be sure to hide any belongings you don’t want to be ruined.
Have plenty of toys accessible throughout the house. Young dogs should stop teething around six months of age.
New puppies don’t have complete control over their little fuzzy bodies yet and may have accidents in the house.
It’s frustrating, but you don’t want to punish your furry friend for something it can’t control. You can begin house training immediately, though. Maintain a routine with plenty of opportunities to go outside.
Offer praise or treats when your puppy potties outside of the house.
Around twelve weeks old, your pup should have better use of its bodily functions, and it’ll have an understanding of its daily routine. By six months old, puppies should be fully house-trained.
Final thoughts on when is a dog no longer a puppy
Whether for humans or canines, the transition to adulthood isn’t always easy, but there are many milestones along the way.
Hold consistent boundaries and routines but have plenty of positive praise and treats for your puppy as it grows up.
You’ll have a loving, reliable pal when it’s fully grown.