From bouncing puppy to elderly companion, your dog will express different needs at each stage of their life. Puppies are demanding and energetic, and adolescents are unpredictable. Adult dogs are eager and self-assured, and by the time they’re seniors, they will have slowed to a comfortably lazy pace.
What happens during different dog ages and stages
As with human relationships, ups and downs are inevitable throughout your years together, but knowing what to expect will keep you one step ahead of the pack. During your dog’s life, they will:
- Upset you. Or, at the very least, frustrate you. Housetraining is no picnic, nor is cleaning up vomit or finding your slippers chewed beyond recognition. Even if your puppy never misbehaves (ha!), their never-ending need for you will sometimes feel overwhelming.
- Surprise you. Maybe your Australian Shepherd loves agility training. Your Doberman can bark their name. Or your Cocker Spaniel actually draws a smile from the grumpy neighbor across the street. Sometimes, you’ll just be astonished by your adolescent dog’s endless desire to please you.
- Bring you incredible joy. Your dog doesn’t care whether you made your sales goals or how good you look for your high school reunion. Your dog is thrilled simply to be around you, and they’ll demonstrate those feelings on a regular basis.
- And probably grief. No matter how long they live, saying goodbye to a treasured friend is difficult. If it weren’t, the relationship wouldn’t be worth it.
How long each stage lasts
That said, every dog develops and ages at their own rate. The following is a rough breakdown of the stages of canine life:
- Puppyhood ends between 6 and 18 months of age.
- Adolescence starts between 6 and 18 months of age.
- Adulthood starts between 12 months and 3 years of age.
- The senior years begin between 6 and 10 years of age.
Every dog is unique
While there are standard dog ages and stages, every pup is as individual as people. There are no hard-and-fast rules for what they’ll do and when they’ll do it.
If you treat your dog with the love and respect they deserve, what you can count on in return is devotion, adoration, and a mistake or two along the way. Remember, both of you are learning to communicate across the human-canine divide.