When my Pit Bull-mix, Mookie, turned a year old, I knew his puppyhood was officially over. At the age of 1, he was now considered an adult. Of course, no one told him this, so he continued to be as playful and energetic as ever. And that’s not surprising, because being 1 year old meant Mookie was the equivalent to a 15-year-old human. And as we all know, 15-year-old humans have plenty of energy and they also have a lot more emotional maturity than they did as young children. The same goes for 1-year-old dogs.
By the age of 1, your dog will have a longer attention span than he did when he was younger. This means he can learn more complicated behaviors and training besides the basic commands he learned as a young puppy. This is a good time to get into dog sports such as agility, tracking and rally. Your dog will have plenty of energy for these sports plus the maturity to focus on the type of training involved.
Many of the puppy behaviors your dog exhibited when he was young have gone away. The tendency to chew on everything he can get his mouth on will be gone (or at least lessening) by the time he is a year old. (Some dogs are exceptions to this and will continue for another six months.) He will also slow down a bit. The wild energy he exhibited as a young puppy will start to wane as he begins to act more like a grown-up.
By the age of 1, your dog has undergone some physical changes, too. He will no longer be growing like he did when he was a puppy. The height and weight he has at the age of 1 will pretty much be what he maintains the rest of his life.
His teeth will still be very white but not as white as they were when he was younger. In fact, you may see some yellowing on his molars. Now is a good time to begin regular dental care, which can include regular brushing and yearly visits to your veterinarian.
Even though your dog is no longer a puppy, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t keep training and socializing him. The lessons he learned as a baby need to be reinforced throughout his life to make sure they stay fresh in his mind.
Here are some activities to consider for your 1-year-old dog:
Training classes: Even if your dog graduated from puppy kindergarten with flying colors, continue his training once he becomes an adult. A class that prepares him to get his AKC Canine Good Citizen Award is an excellent choice for a 1-year-old dog. He will learn all the good manners needed to get along well in human society, and at the end of the class, he will be tested to make sure he knows his stuff. If he passes the exam, he will get a certificate and the title of Canine Good Citizen.
Competitive activities: The dog world offers all kinds of fun competitions you and your dog can participate in. And your dog doesn’t have to be a purebred to be eligible. Agility is one such sport, and dogs really love it. Rally is another activity, which is a cross between agility and obedience class. Still other events, like flyball, dock diving and tracking, can be plenty of fun for both dogs and their humans. Once your dog is 1 year old, he’s got the maturity and attention span to take on these sports.
Fun outings: Hopefully you took your dog places when he was a puppy, and he is used to getting out of the house. Don’t let his newfound maturity stop these activities. Trips to the beach, going out to eat at a dog-friendly restaurant and walks in the park are all vital to your dog’s continued socialization. The more he gets out and experiences the world, the more well-rounded a dog he will be.
Doggie playdates: If your dog enjoys the company of other canines and likes playing with them, set up some doggie playdates for him. If you have friends with dogs who also like to play, get together and let the dogs frolic. If you don’t know any other dogs for your 1-year-old to play with, find a doggie daycare facility near you and sign him up. Encouraging him to spend time playing with other dogs helps with his ongoing socialization. It also enables him to burn some energy. When he comes home after spending the day at doggie daycare, he will sleep like a baby.
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An award-winning writer and editor, Audrey Pavia is a former managing editor at Dog Fancy magazine and former senior editor of The AKC Gazette. She is the author of The Labrador Retriever Handbook (Barrons) and has written extensively on horses as well as other pets. She shares her home in Norco, California, with two rescue dogs, Candy and Mookie.