Many dog owners think the worst of the puppy years is well behind them when their pooch surpasses six months of age. However, the first 12 months of a puppy’s life is chock full of new experiences for which a pup needs the support and guidance of his devoted owner. During the 7th month of life, puppies continue to go through development periods socially, emotionally, and physically, and it is during this time that behavior continues to be shaped by socialization and the pup’s environment. Though by age seven months, your puppy will be comfortable in your home and a happy member of your family, there are still some growing pains for the two of you to weather together.
The 7 Month Old Puppy’s Physical and Mental Changes
Though many small breeds reach their adult height by the age of seven months, medium, large, and giant breed dogs are still going through growth spurts with several months remaining before adult proportions are fully achieved. Physical maturity also takes time, meaning that many puppies undergo a gangly period where many of their body parts don’t seem to fit together cohesively. This “filling out” occurs over a period of months, so not to worry if it appears your once adorable pooch has entered a stage of the puppy uglies. It is a normal part of the growing process and will be remedied with time and patience.
As your puppy enters his 7th month, he will begin approaching sexual maturity. Though male puppies can produce sperm as early as five months of age, a male puppy this young is not ready to be bred as this early semen is not yet viable for reproduction. Conversely, a female puppy is reproductively capable of conceiving a litter at six months of age though her first heat cycle may occur much later than this. Just as a male puppy is not ideally suited to siring a litter at five months of age, neither is a female puppy emotionally or physically ready to whelp her first litter of puppies. Experts agree that female dogs require maturity to emotionally and physically be prepared for the demands of whelping and rearing offspring. This is best reserved for after two years of age and when all requisite health testing has been completed and passed.
Since most families do not want the added nuisances of dealing with heat cycles in females and males with a penchant to roam, age seven months is an appropriate time to begin discussions with your veterinarian about spaying and neutering. Given that today’s society is rife with unwanted dogs and cats, an unplanned pregnancy contributes to a problem that is already of epic proportions. But spaying and neutering has greater benefits than simply preventing reproduction in a dog. Research shows that these reproductive surgeries reduce unwanted behaviors seen in some intact dogs such as roaming, aggression, marking in the house, and humping. In addition to this, some veterinarians purport that spaying and neutering helps prevent cancers more commonly seen in intact animals, another powerful reason to consider altering your pooch.
Though your puppy has passed the half year mark and is on his way to becoming an adult dog, you will still need to bear in mind that your pooch is still a baby. Though dogs were pack animals in the wild, your well-domesticated puppy will still need to learn how to relate to other dogs he sees when out in society. Taking your puppy to places where he can meet other dogs in a safe and controlled environment can be very beneficial for him. Always take care that you only introduce your puppy to dogs that are socially appropriate as a negative interaction at this age could leave a lasting imprint on your dog. It is also vitally important that you pay careful attention to your puppy and do not force him to do things that are outside his comfort zone. You want your puppy to view you as his protector and trusted friend. To best do this, you must take great care to only place him in situations that allow him to succeed and that support his emotional growth. Allow your puppy to serve as your guide as to when to begin and cease any planned interaction.
The 7 Month Old Puppy’s Behavior
Though puppies primarily navigate their world by way of their mouths prior to this stage; at age seven months, your puppy will begin to discover that he can use his body to communicate his wants and desires. This occurs through a variety of different signals including the positioning of a puppy’s body and movement of the eyes, ears, and tail. These actions are important tools to assess your puppy’s reaction to different environments. Always pay careful attention to your puppy’s body language and be prepared to react accordingly should you see signs of tension or anxiety. These opportunities are learning cues to alert you that your puppy is struggling with something emotionally and requires your support and help to overcome the challenges he is facing. Sensitivity and delicacy are required to successfully navigate through this period.
The 7 Month Old Puppy’s Nutritional Requirements
Though your puppy will continue to develop physically for several more months, you must take care to not overfeed your puppy. Puppies can easily pack on excess pounds from additional treats or calorie-heavy food fed too frequently. Insufficient exercise can also play a significant role in your puppy’s weight. To avoid excess weight on your puppy, it is best to refrain from feeding your pooch table scraps or to rely too heavily on calorie dense treats in your training efforts.
Additional weight is harmful for a developing puppy’s joints and bones, but it also places excess strain upon the heart. Puppies who carry too much weight on their frames often lose interest in some of most joyful activities in a dog’s life such as regular play or going for walks. To prevent weight gain, it is best to monitor your puppy’s weight via weigh-ins at your veterinary clinic. Most clinics have a scale directly in their front office and don’t require you to make or pay for an office visit if you wish to use the scales periodically to check on your puppy’s weight and growth.
To support a healthy weight, try to source treats that are small in size, high in flavor, but low in calories. You may also reserve a portion of your pooch’s food specifically for training if it is something your puppy loves and would consider a special treat.
During this time period, it is important to remain in close contact with your veterinarian regarding vaccinations, dewormings, and flea preventatives. Your veterinarian can provide the best recommendations for dogs residing in your area as many regions in the world are plagued by different problems, making very specific protocols necessary for safety.
Yes, Month 7 of a puppy’s life is still full of lots of fun!
Provide support, consider spaying and neutering, and keep an eye on your puppy’s weight and activity levels, and you’ve got a recipe for success.