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My Puppy is 6 Months Old! What now?

6 month old Labrador retriever

Month 6 to 1 Year of Puppy Development – What to Expect

It seems like only yesterday you were bringing your tiny puppy home for the first time. But at 6 months old, your pooch is now considered an adolescent.

They’re in the final stretch of their development stage, and pretty soon you’ll have an adult dog on your hands. The care needs of a 6-month to 1-year-old pooch are drastically different to earlier ages, which we’ve also covered, so you’ll need to make sure you’re prepared.

And to help you on your way to raising a healthy and happy adult dog, we’ll be going over everything you need to know about month 6 to 1 year of puppy development.

young German Shepherd

6-Month-Old Puppy Training

By 6 months of age, your puppy should hopefully be crate trained and housebroken. Some pups might have the odd accident or two, but this shouldn’t be a regular occurrence.

Your puppy’s brain is fully developed at this point, so they should understand the difference between wrong and right behaviour.

Now is a good time to work on some basic commands such as sit, stay, and lay down. You can also start adding some tricks like roll over, crawl, and catch.

If you haven’t already, consider teaching your puppy recall (i.e., come back when called). This is handy during off-leash walks for when you need your pooch to return to you. Teaching your dog to drop items on cue is also important, particularly if they get their paws onto something they’re not supposed to.

Once your puppy has learned everything they need to know, you should continue training sessions to keep them on their toes. Otherwise, you might find your puppy has a sudden case of forgetfulness, which might set their training process back.

Around this time, you might notice your puppy picking up some bad habits or new behavioural issues. Make sure you rectify any problem behaviour as soon as possible.

Don’t be tempted to let it slide or presume it will go away once your dog reaches adulthood. The longer you leave it, the harder it will be to correct.

If you’re struggling to deal with a misbehaving puppy, speak to your vet for advice or consult a dog trainer.

Springer Spaniel puppy

6-Month-Old Puppy Behaviour

Your puppy is essentially a teenager at 6 months old, and their behaviour will be a lot different to when they were 8 weeks or even 16 weeks old. They will likely be energetic, playful, and much more independent.

It’s also common for puppies to get a bit rebellious and destructive during this stage of development. They may start regressing in terms of training, seemingly “forgetting” all the things you’ve previously taught them.

Try not to get disheartened and continue working on your pup’s training. Be consistent and repetitive with sessions, and above all else, don’t lose hope! Your puppy’s naughtiness isn’t personal, it’s just something that happens during the adolescent stage.

You can help reduce mischievous behaviour by ensuring you provide your dog with plenty of physical and mental stimulation. Puzzle toys, games of fetch or tug-of-war, and even agility courses are great ways for curbing boredom in rascal pups.

In addition to a newfound rebellious streak, you might notice a shift in the behaviour between your puppy and other dogs in your house. Adult dogs will know your pup isn’t so young anymore. They’ll be less likely to look the other way if your puppy crosses any boundaries.

dog playing in garden

6-Month-Old Puppy Sleep Schedules

Despite being bigger and stronger, your 6-month-old puppy still requires plenty of rest each day. All that playing and exploring is hard work! Most puppies sleep for around 16 to 18 hours a day at 6 months old.

Make sure you let them squeeze in a nap after a walk or intense play session. Besides, while your pup is asleep, at least they’re not getting into mischief!Additionally, your four-legged friend should be older enough to sleep through the night without needing any potty breaks. As a general rule of thumb, a puppy can hold their bladder one hour for every month of their age. So, a 6-month-old dog should be capable of going 6 hours without needing to eliminate.

Naughty Puppy Behaviour

A couple of common problems associated with 6-month-old puppies is disobedience and not coming back when called. The former usually results in a lot of young dogs being put in rescue centres, unfortunately.

It can be frustrating dealing with a puppy who won’t listen, but you need to keep up your training sessions (we keep reiterating this, but it really is important!).

Offer treats, games, or praise when your puppy is responsive and listens to your commands. Reward them after good behaviour so they associate it with a positive.

If your pooch isn’t returning to you when you call them back on walks, it could be because you’re not as appealing as the thing they’re sniffing, exploring, etc. You need to give your dog a reason to want to come back to you, whether it’s because you have a tasty treat or their favourite toy.

mischievous puppy

6-Month-Old Feeding

Between the ages of 2 to 6 months old, puppies are normally fed 3 to 4 times a day. During the adolescent stage, however, most dogs can drop down to 2 meals a day.

Some large breeds aren’t fully mature until 18 to 24 months old, so they may still need to be fed 3 or 4 times a day. If you’re unsure, check with your vet before you reduce your puppy’s feedings.

Although your puppy is almost an adult, they still have some growing to do. Continue feeding them puppy food to ensure they get all the nutrients they need.

At a year old, most canines can be moved onto adult dog food twice a day. Again, large and giant breeds may still require puppy food at this age as they take longer to develop than small and medium breeds.

6-Month-Old Puppy Socialisation

While the prime time to socialise your puppy is when they are 8 to 16 weeks old, that doesn’t mean you should stop socialisation altogether. It’s still crucial for your canine to explore their environment and be introduced to new things.

Keep meeting new people and going to new places, and allow your puppy to experience things they’re not used to. This will increase their confidence and shape the type of dog they become as they mature into an adult.

Remember, ignore undesirable behaviour and reward good behaviour. Dogs learn best through positive reinforcement.

For example, if your dog barks or acts frightened when they see a bicycle, don’t yell or punish them. Keep walking and continue subjecting them to the fear until they start to relax.

The first time your dog walks past a bicycle calmly, give them a lot of praise and a reward (seriously, make a song and dance of it!). Your pup is more likely to repeat an action if they know something good comes after it.

puppy socialisation

6-Month-Old Puppy Appearance

After reaching 6 months of age, your puppy will be nearing their adult height and weight. Small breeds will be almost fully grown, but they might retain a bit of their “lanky” puppy appearance until they fill out over the upcoming months.

Medium-sized dogs will continue to grow for several months, though not as rapidly as they did when they were younger. Large and giant breeds, on the other hand, usually keep growing until 12 to 24 months of age.

Between the ages of 6 and 8 months old, dogs become sexually mature. This is around the time you should consider spaying or neutering your pooch. Bear in mind that small dogs sexually mature faster than large breeds.

Unneutered males will start showing interest in females even at half a year old, especially if they are in heat. It can be hard to control an unneutered dog around a female in heat. All his attention will be directed towards mating.

Unaltered males will mark their territory with urine, both outside and inside the house. Neutered males can also engage in marking behaviour, but usually to a lesser degree.

If your female puppy hasn’t been spayed, at around 6 to 8 months old, she will usually go into heat (also known as estrus). She can become pregnant at this age if left alone with a male dog, and may even try to run off to find a mate.

dog running with ball

6-Month-Old Puppy Health and Care

Your puppy should have had all of their vaccinations by the time they are 6 months old, but they will need booster shots annually to maintain protection from infectious diseases.

Hopefully, you’ve been keeping on top of your dog’s heartworm and flea/tick treatments. At this stage of development, your puppy should be wormed around every 3 months. Flea and tick preventatives should be given every month.

You should be making sure your puppy’s exercise requirements are being met. At 6 months old, your pup should be able to go on 30-minute walks once a day.

Continue to keep on top of your puppy’s grooming needs. This includes brushing, clipping nails, and cleaning ears and teeth. If your pooch is a long-haired breed, their coat might be getting pretty thick by now, so consider taking them to a groomer for a trim.

One of the most important decisions you’ll need to make once your puppy is around 6 months old is whether you’re going to spay/neuter them. There are a lot of benefits to neutering and spaying your pooch, including:

  • It reduces the risk of some health issues, such as certain cancers, infections, and risks associated with pregnancy.
  • It prevents unwanted litters.
  • It can encourage calmer behaviour in dogs. Additionally, neutered males are less likely to mark their territory.
  • It stops female dogs from coming into heat. During the estrus cycle, which lasts around 3 weeks twice a day, female dogs usually produce a bloody discharge and will go to great lengths to find a mate. Spaying your dog means you don’t have to go through this inconvenience.

As you can see, spaying/neutering your pup has a lot of advantages, both to you and your dog. If you’re still a little on the fence about your pup having this type of surgery, speak to your vet for advice. They should be able to answer any questions or concerns you might have.

Puppy collar of shame

6-Month-Old Puppy Schedule

By now, your puppy should be on a consistent schedule so they know what to expect each day. But if you hadn’t got a routine planned out for your pup just yet, here’s an example one you could use:

7am – Potty break and activity.

8am – Meal and activity.

9am – Sleep.

12pm – Potty break and activity.

4pm – Sleep.

6pm – Potty break, meal and activity.

8pm – Activity until bedtime.

10pm – Potty break and bed.

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