Cats and Dogs
Article Rating
1 звезда2 звезды3 звезды4 звезды5 звезд

How old is a dog mentally?

Puppy Development From 6 Months to 1 Year

Jenna Stregowski is the Pet Health and Behavior Editor for Daily Paws and The Spruce Pets. She’s also a registered veterinary technician with over 20 years of expertise in the field of veterinary medicine.

Updated on 11/23/21
Reviewed by

Nelva J. Bryant, DVM, MPH

Dr. Nelva Bryant, DVM, is a highly accomplished veterinarian with three decades of professional experience in animal welfare, public health, and zoonotic diseases. She has worked with airlines and the Centers for Disease Control to improve pet travel through veterinary oversight. Dr. Bryant is a Veterinary Review Board Member for The Spruce Pets.

Light brown and fluffy puppy playing under crochet blanket

In This Article
Back to Top

During 6 months to 1 year of age, your puppy’s physical changes will slow down a bit and their energy levels may increase showing you a newer side of your puppy’s personality. At 6 months, your puppy is now considered an adolescent after their fast-growing juvenile stage from age 3 to 6 months.

Be prepared to adapt to your puppy’s needs in this life stage since they may have several behavior changes that will need your reinforcement in training and patience. Remember to continue introducing your dog to different experiences with people and environments since they are still understanding the outside world.

Physical Development


By six months of age, your puppy’s growth will slow down. Most small dog breeds will be nearly finished growing at this time, though they may continue to fill out over the next three to six months. Medium dogs often keep growing for a few more months, but at a slower rate. Large and giant dog breeds tend to keep growing until they are 12 to 24 months old. Between six and eight months, many puppies have a «lanky» and awkward look that is quite adorable.

House Training

Most dogs are house trained and in full control of their bladders and bowels by the age of six months. House training is mainly complete at this point. Some puppies will still have an occasional accident in the house, especially if there is a change in the routine. Continue to be patient and consistent; this is normal. If your dog is still having major issues with house training, contact your vet for advice. Your puppy may have a health issue that can be treated.


Your puppy should have all of their adult teeth by six months of age. This means that teething is over and your dog may chew less obsessively. Remember that it is still normal for dogs to chew, so make sure you have healthy dog chews available.

Sexual Maturity

Dogs reach sexual maturity between 6 and 8 months of age. Pet owners should consider having their dog spayed or neutered by 6 months of age for small-breed dogs and between 9 and 15 months for large breed dogs, after growth stops.

If you have not neutered your male dog, he will begin to show an interest in female dogs, specifically those in heat. He will go to great lengths to mate at this point. Whether neutered or not, he will likely begin to lift his leg to urinate (if he hasn’t already) and may begin marking areas with urine. Marking behavior can be curbed more easily if you stop it early. Catch your dog in the act and redirect him to an appropriate place. Marking behavior tends to be less severe in neutered dogs.

If your female dog has not been spayed, she will likely go into heat (estrus) between the ages of 6 and 8 months. She can easily become pregnant at this time if she is with a male dog. She may also try to escape the house to mate.

Behaviorial Changes

Your 6-month-old puppy is an adolescent now, and their behavior may show it. He may have an increase in energy and willfulness. The dynamic between other dogs may also change; adult dogs can now tell they are old enough to know better and will not go as easy on them if they step out of line.


Just because your puppy is past the optimum socialization window, it doesn’t mean that socialization should stop. Your puppy is still exploring his environment and learning new things. Continue to expose your puppy to new experiences, people, places, things, and sounds. Reward for calm behavior and ignore fearful behavior.

Destructive Behavior

It is common for adolescent puppies to exhibit some destructive behavior in this stage. This is often caused by boredom due to the increase in energy and confidence. Continue to provide plenty of exercise for your puppy.


Puppies between 6 and 12 months of age may sometimes act like they «forgot» their training. Be consistent and firm. Continue to have regular training sessions, covering the old basics again, and mixing in newer, more difficult tasks.

Light brown and fluffy puppy held up in the air

Health and Care

Now that puppy vaccines are completed, your puppy will not need to see the veterinarian until adulthood (unless something is wrong). Be sure to watch your puppy for any signs of illness. Contact your vet with any concerns. You are still learning what is normal for your puppy. It is much easier to treat most health issues if they are caught early.

Puppy Development: 6 month to 1 year

Food and Nutrition

Proper nutrition is an important part of your puppy’s development. In general, you should continue feeding puppy food (dog food labeled for growth) until your puppy is done growing. Large breed dogs often need to stay on puppy food past their first year, but other dogs can usually start to transition to adult food between 9 and 12 months of age. Small breed dogs may transition even earlier.

Because your dog’s rate of growth is slowing at this time, it can be easy to accidentally overfeed. Make sure your dog’s growth is overall, not just in his belly. Obesity in dogs is a common problem. Ask your vet for advice about your dog’s optimum weight. Your vet can also tell you when to transition your dog to adult food.

When feeding treats, make sure they are non-toxic, healthy, and not fed in excess. Dog treats should never make up more than 10 percent of your puppy’s daily food intake.


When giving chew treats, avoid bones, antlers, hooves, hard nylon dog toys, or other hard chews. Even though the adult teeth are all in, they can easily be damaged by chews that are too hard.


You are never truly done training your puppy. Even adult dogs need regular training to keep them sharp. By this time, house training should be basically complete. Now is a good time to fine-tune obedience training. Continue to practice basic commands like sit, stay, and down. Add more advanced things, like roll over. Keep working on the recall cue and add in an emergency recall.

As your puppy matures, you may notice new behavior problems cropping up. Address them as soon as possible. Don’t assume your puppy will grow out of it. The longer you allow inappropriate behavior, the more difficult it will be to correct it. If the issues are too hard to manage on your own, seek assistance from a dog trainer or behaviorist.

Article Sources

The Spruce Pets uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.

  1. German, Alexander J. et al. Dangerous trends in pet obesity. Vet Record. 2018;182(1):25. doi:10.1136/vr.k2
  2. You Are What You Eat – Providing a Good Diet History. Cummings Veterinary Medical Center at Tufts University.
  3. When Good Play Goes Bad: Dog Tolerance Changes in Adolescent/Adult Dogs. Animal Humane Society.

When Does My Puppy Become an Adult Dog?

Is your puppy becoming an adult dog? It may be hard to tell. If you’ve had them since they were a young puppy, you’ll remember the many changes they experienced: their teeth coming in, learning to play fetch, potty training and socializing.

But the older your pooch gets, the smaller and more subtle their developmental growth becomes. It’s important for you, as the pet parent, to understand the changes occurring at every stage of puppy development so that you can keep up with their changing needs as they grow into an adult dog.

When Does a Puppy Become an Adult Dog?

Adult dog nosing a puppy running outside.

Your puppy won’t reach maturity all at once. Like humans, dogs transition from baby to adult in stages, though the transition happens much more quickly for dogs. Here’s what to look for as your puppy matures:

  • Sexual Maturity: Most dogs become sexually mature by 6 months when they’re still in the puppy stage of development both physically and emotionally. At this point, your pup’s sex organs are fully developed, making them capable of reproducing. Spaying or neutering your dog is recommended in order to avoid unwanted pregnancies and adverse behaviors, such as roaming or marking. While the traditional age for spaying or neutering is 6 to 9 months old, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) explains that healthy puppies as young as 8 weeks old can be eligible. Consult your veterinarian to determine the best age for your pup’s unique needs.
  • Physical Maturity: Physically speaking, dogs are fully grown by the time they’re 1 year old, although large breeds may keep growing until they’re 2 years old. When your pup reaches physical maturity, they may still engage in puppy-like behaviors but their physical needs, including the number of calories they need to consume and how much exercise they require to stay healthy, become that of an adult dog.
  • Emotional Maturity: You’ll know your dog has reached emotional maturity when they stop acting like a puppy or an adolescent and fully settle into the role of an adult dog. Typically, emotionally mature adults are less distractible, better at listening and obeying and have a calmer and more settled demeanor. The precise timing of this milestone differs, but most dogs reach emotional maturity by their second birthday.

How to Manage Puppy Adolescence

In puppy development, the time between reaching sexual maturity and emotional maturity is akin to human adolescence. This can be a challenging stage — at times your pup’s behavior might remind you of that of a rebellious teenager. While not all adolescent puppies exhibit behavior problems, it is extremely common. It’s important to be patient, but firm and consistent when establishing boundaries and expectations for behavior.

Meeting Your Growing Dog’s Needs: Food, Care, Exercise & More

Though they may still have some emotional maturing left to do, your puppy’s physical needs become those of a dog once they reach physical maturity. Here’s how you should expect to meet your growing dog’s changing needs:

  • Adult Dog Food: Growing puppies burn through a lot of energy in a day and need specialized food that’s high in protein, fat and calories in order to keep up. Once they’re fully grown, though, they should switch to adult dog food that will meet their nutritional needs and prevent them from becoming overweight. In order to avoid tummy troubles, it’s best to transition slowly over the space of a week, gradually reducing the amount of puppy food while adding in their new adult food.
  • Veterinary Care: Barring illness or injury, healthy adult dogs in their prime typically only need to visit a vet once a year for an annual wellness check and, depending on the laws in your state, an annual rabies vaccine. For puppies, however, vets will administer a series of vaccinations starting at 6 to 8 weeks of age, ending with a final dose at 16 weeks, says the ASPCA.

woman walks a beagle through the forest during autumn.

  • Exercise: An adult dog’s exercise needs vary depending on size, breed, sex, age and health, says the ASPCA. Some small and toy breeds can meet their exercise requirements by simply following you around the house and engaging in occasional play, while larger dogs tend to need at least 30 minutes a day of vigorous activity in order to stay calm and fit. Without the puppy-like urge to romp and explore, your adult pooch may need more structured forms of exercise such as going on walks, accompanying you on hikes or playing fetch in the backyard.
  • Dog Supplies: Depending on how big your dog becomes relative to their puppy size, you may need to invest in new supplies. In addition to a larger collar and leash, your grown pup may also need to upgrade to larger food and water dishes, a roomier bed, a larger crate or carrier and new toys that are both bigger and sturdier to withstand rougher play.

It can be bittersweet to watch your puppy becoming an adult — but as much fun as the first year can be, there are few things more rewarding for a pet parent than getting to know the personality of the dog your pup was destined to become. Meeting their changing needs will help set the stage for a loving relationship that will reward you both for years to come.

Contributor Bio

Amy Shojai

Amy Shojai, CABC

Amy Shojai is a certified animal behavior consultant, and nationally known authority on pet care and behavior. She began her career as a veterinary technician and is the award-winning author of more than 35 prescriptive nonfiction pet books.

Link to main publication