80–83 Weeks: What to Expect From Your Puppy
Puppyhood is Over: Caring for an Adult Dog
Well, puppyhood is over and you're venturing into the world of the adult dog. A puppy may be adorable and goofy and so much fun but now you have the benefits of a more independent, calmer, confident canine. Your puppy is now fully grown, and his senses, cognitive function, physical function and personality are fully developed. You also have the benefit of knowing his habits, his good points and his bad.
An adult dog takes less time and energy than a puppy. He's housebroken, obedience trained, socialized and mature. The focus in caring for an adult dog shifts from teaching and immediate solutions to upkeep and preventive measures. Although you'll occasionally be pleasantly surprised by your grown puppy suddenly acting like he's four months old, running wildly through the house or demanding a game if catch, you'll mostly be able to rely on constant behavior and personality. Here we'll cover the basic categories of adult dog care - behavior, nutrition, training, and health.
Caring for an Adult Dog
Behavior - Many of your puppy's behavioral problems have been addressed by now though some new ones could crop up (or some old ones resurface). Be prepared to handle issues such as separation anxiety, barking, jumping, digging and the great escape.
Nutrition - Most likely your puppy is well-established on an adult dog food. You may end up changing it in the future due to weight gain or loss or illness. Look for skin allergies which could signify a sudden reaction to your puppy's food.
Training - A puppy who has been obedience trained is a joy to live with. Work with him for the rest of his life, going over old commands and introducing new ones. And consider introducing something like agility if you haven't already.
Health - Puppies and adult dogs share some illnesses but there are differences, as well. As your puppy gets older, he may have to deal with conditions such as hypothyroidism, diabetes, arthritis or more serious illnesses such as heart or liver disease, epilepsy or cancer. Rest assured that many conditions and illnesses can be treated and some can be prevented.
There are many things you can do with an adult dog that you can't do with a puppy. You can leave him home alone. You can travel long distances with him. You can take long walk and hikes with him. And you can trust an adult dog more than a puppy to do what you expect him to do. Your puppy has developed his own personality as well, unique and, often, surprisingly human. But, keep in mind, that dogs are dogs - they are not little people.
Think how far you and your puppy have come - you now have a well-adjusted and well-mannered dog. And some wonderful things about having them as puppies is that you get to know them intimately and you have influence during their formative years. Congratulations! You have an adult dog!
Advice from Other Dog Owners
Puppies Eat Less When They are Teething
When my dog was teething his appetite decreased quite a bit. Our vet recommended adding water to his food to soften it up, which worked great. He did not recommend that we do that all the time because the hard food helps their dental hygiene. That worked for us! Ice cubes and toys in the freezer also helped (i.e. water down a rope toy and freeze).
~TALIE D., owner of Labrador Retriever