Developmental stages in the dog: from puppy to senior

From puppy to young dog to adult four-legged friend: your furry friend goes through the dog development phases with all their facets, such as socialisation and puberty, within a maximum of three years. This is only a fraction of the time it takes humans to grow up. And a few years later, your adult dog has become an aged senior, as you can see from the diagram.


We show you what needs your pet has in each of its developmental phases and what challenges they hold in store for you - because one thing is certain: it will never be boring with your four-legged friend.

Entwicklungsphasen des Hundes

Puppyhood: signposts for the future

After around 60 to 65 days of pregnancy, your little four-legged friend will see the light of day for the first time. He spends the first few weeks of his life with his littermates in the safe care of his mother. Even in the first few days of life, puppies are able to perceive odours and taste (neonatal phase). The subsequent transitional phase up to the third week of life consists mainly of sleeping and drinking from the bitch's teats. During this period of puppy development, the eyes also open and hearing develops.

The socialisation phase: crucial for your life together

After the first few weeks with their mother, puppies are adopted at an age of 8 weeks at the earliest. In the period up to 12 weeks of age, in the so-called imprinting and socialisation phase, the bond with your puppy develops and he makes contact with others and his environment. He is constantly learning new things, gaining experience and growing. This period has a decisive influence on your puppy and therefore has a major impact on your future life together.

What your puppy needs

Your puppy should feel comfortable and settle in well. You can help him do this:

  • Needs: The first days and nights with a puppy are particularly exciting. Your puppy now needs enough time to settle in and get to know you. It will help him and your bond if he realises that he can rely on you. In order to process all the impressions, puppies are allowed to sleep for more than two thirds of the day - preferably in a quiet and warm place.
  • Activities: Your puppy loves to explore its surroundings, sniff around and get to know everything in peace and quiet. It is therefore important that your living area is puppy-proof. Short walks in the neighbourhood are also very exciting for your little one. Relaxation, rest and plenty of cuddles are of course also essential.
  • Nutrition: Your puppy will be fed special puppy food, the composition of which is optimised to meet the needs of a growing dog. Want to know more? You can find detailed tips on puppy nutrition in our magazine.

Young dog: Life with the puberty animal

After puppyhood and the completion of the hierarchy phase at around 18 weeks of age, your puppy will develop into a young dog.
usually begins around the 6th/7th month of life. However, depending on the breed and size of your dog, it may not start until 12 months. Puberty ends when your four-legged friend is fully grown. Here, too, there are differences depending on the breed and size of the dog. The period is between 24 and 36 months of life.

What your young dog needs in the puberty phase

Now the focus is on navigating your darling calmly and lovingly, but also firmly and consistently through his hormonal chaos.

  • Needs: Puberty challenges your dog all along the line. One moment he may be rebellious and self-confident towards other dogs, but a short time later he is anxious and in need of protection. The many stimuli, which he now perceives very differently to just a few weeks ago, stress and unsettle him. This makes him tired more quickly than usual. You are now his safe haven.
  • Activities: During this time, it's all in the mix. Walks where male dogs or female dogs suddenly appear incredibly attractive and interesting are just as much a part of it as patient training sessions, for example to practise driving a car, which is suddenly no longer tolerated.
  • Nutrition: Neither his favourite food nor treats can tempt your "teenager"? Very exciting days can certainly cause a temporary loss of appetite. However, your growing dog generally has a high energy requirement and should therefore be given dog food with sufficient nutrients for its age.

Our tip: Always keep your nerve! Despite some challenges, you can support your furry four-legged friend educationally. You can find out how to do this in our article "Puberty in dogs: How to master the puberty phase".

Adult dog: Full in life

When your dog is an adult depends on the breed. But roughly, an age of 24 to 36 months can be given, in which your dog is fully grown. His bones and joints are fully formed.

What your adult dog needs

In the best of his life, your four-legged friend is full of power and strength. Especially agile breeds are now looking forward to a good workout.

  • Needs: Adult dogs are largely independent and routinized in everyday life. You know your quirks and can adjust your life together to your needs and habits - so you are an optimally harmonized team.
  • Activities: There are now almost no limits to your imagination when it comes to joint activities. How about agility training and parcours exercises in the forest? Skillfully overcome obstacles such as tree stumps or benches and glide over narrow tree trunks or walls. Even doing fetch training together, swimming with your dog, cycling or jogging are now really fun together. Or plan your hiking vacation with your dog this year.
  • Nutrition: Depending on breed and activities, the dog food should naturally provide the energy and nutrients your adult dog needs. If you are unsure, a veterinarian or dog nutritionist will be happy to advise you on this.

Dog senior: In calmness there is the power

Just a year before, your dog was romping around the dog run with his fellow dogs and enjoying swimming in the summer. But now he prefers to watch his friends from a distance instead of actively playing together. Even at your favorite lake, he just lays comfortably on the shore or cools off in the shallow water - your dog is getting old. A senior dog grows gray fur around his muzzle, which spreads from there over his entire body over time. Also his fur looks duller, the teeth turn yellow to brown or even fall out.

What your dog senior needs

Your graying four-legged friend now likes to stick to you and his familiar surroundings because his senses and abilities are weakening to find his way among strangers or in new surroundings.

  • Needs: Your pelt-nose's vision and hearing are getting worse. It is not uncommon for old dogs to suffer from one or more of these medical conditions
    • adult-onset diabetes
    • Arthritis
    • Toothache / tooth loss
    • Heart disease
    • Adrenal hyperfunction
    • Incontinence
    • Obesity

Maybe your four-legged friend seems more headstrong than usual? That's no wonder, after all, your old dog becomes forgetful and no longer learns as well as in his younger years. Senior dogs also get stressed more quickly because they can no longer assess many situations and changes in everyday life as well.

  • Activities: Your four-legged friend moves more slowly, his gait seems stiffer and he is not as agile as before. If he was jumping on the sofa until recently, he may now need doggy stairs to get to his favorite spot. You can accommodate him by taking him on short walks, pampering him with light massages to help his circulation, and otherwise giving him the rest he needs.
  • Nutrition: Senior dogs need less energy-rich food - after all, they also move significantly less. Small portions of special, high-fiber senior food are also easier to digest.

Conclusion: As you can see, every dog's age is exciting and challenging for you and your four-legged friend. But one thing is certain: your dog will love you all his life and will always be your faithful companion, despite a few problems in old age!

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