How does your dog change through the years?
As your dog matures and grows older, they don’t just change physically. Their personalities can also change over the years. Your dog will grow with you, and you will get more and more in tune with each other. Let's take a look at the life of our four-legged pets.
The life of a dog starts with their mother, brothers, and sisters. Puppies learn the basics of canine life from the mother dog, like how to interact with other animals and people. They also learn things like which sounds are safe and which are not, like a passing car and the doorbell. This period is called the first socialisation.
Most puppies leave their litter at 12 weeks old. The second phase of socialisation begins when the puppy comes to live with you. You’ll be taking over the role of the mother dog in the parenting process. It is best to introduce your puppy to many new situations and allow them to get used to the dogs and people around them. You will also teach them basic commands, such as sitting and walking on a leash.
From playful pup to awkward adolescent
Most dogs hit puberty at six to twelve months of age. Puberty can last until the dog is three years old, but this varies per dog and breed. During this phase, your dog’s behaviour may change from when he was a pup. They are under the spell of a surge of new hormones, and they are suddenly picking up all kinds of new scents. Of course, that is all very exciting for them, so it is important to be their safe harbour. Be clear in your communication and indicate what behaviour is desired and what is not.
Adulthood is when you will reap the rewards of your upbringing. If all went well, your pet listens to you, and you are completely in tune with each other. You will also see their adolescent behaviour stabilise. This is the time you will get to know your dog on a whole new level.
Your dog reaches the senior phase when they are at about 75% of their expected lifespan. For many dogs, this starts around the age of seven. The older they get, the more chance they have at developing ages and pains and possible deterioration. Unfortunately, dogs are exactly like humans in that respect. With many dogs, you may notice that their senses are not as sharp as they used to be. For example, they may get a little hard of hearing. Should they develop joint problems start moving less, it is important to pay attention to their diet. If your dog is consuming less energy than they used to, they will probably also need less food. If you want, you can discuss this with your vet.
It’s not just the body that changes
Through the years, your dog's personality may also change. As a puppy, they were probably playful and curious, but a geriatric dog may be more thoughtful and attached to their routines. But age isn’t the only thing that influences personality.
Research shows humans have a big influence on their dog’s personality, first of all, through education and obedience training. Because you correct your dog’s actions, they will start showing different behaviour. But your influence goes beyond that. It seems that people who see themselves as extroverted are likely to consider their dog as enthusiastic and active. Pet parents with negative outlook on life are more likely to see their dog as anxious and not very sensitive to training.
This tells us that dogs react strongly to the energy you project. It also shows that the way owners see their dog is heavily coloured by their personal perspective. So, looking at your dog may even teach you something about yourself! 😉
It's interesting to observe your dog’s development during his lifetime. Is your dog getting older? Think back to when they were a puppy. Do you see how much he has changed? And if you have a puppy now, it is probably hard to imagine what they'll be like ten years from now. In any case, it's good to realise the role you play in this. But of course you're doing the best for your dog, so we are sure they will be just fine!