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Dog selection tips Part 3 - Age

Age
Other than knowing the proper way to selecting a healthy puppy (click here to learn how), understanding the pros and cons of a dog's age can help you to gauge their behaviors and health risks.

This article is created to help people increase their chance of getting an idea dog that suits their lifestyle and personality. Though all dogs grow old no matter their age, it is still beneficial to know about the general character of a dog based on its age, this aims to eliminate concerns that new owners might have. Do note that this is just a guideline to give people a rough understanding of what to expect, we will never advice anyone to judge a dog's learning ability just based on it's age, therefore this guide is placed on the 3rd consideration among other factors. For example, inexperienced owners knowing that they are not prepared to handle a senior dog can choose to first get one that is younger, this gives them a couple of years to get used to handling a younger dog till it gets older, also to be able to have time to save up for things like medical bills. Once they have experienced the life stages of an older dog, they will have enough knowledge, then they can then start to adopt senior dogs with confidence in future.

Below we will break down the age of dogs into 4 groups and list down the benefits as well as disadvantages in point forms.

Note: There are kind hearted people out there that do not mind bringing a dog with health problems home, these are people who already know what to expect and are ready to spend their time and money to take care of unfortunate dogs, if you too are one of these people then it will not be advisable to follow our tips.

Puppy
The most popular of all ages - Puppies are dogs that are aged between newborn to 1 year old, note that a puppy should only be brought home after it finishes the 2nd vaccination, which is about 3 months of age.

Puppies are innocent and loves to play a lot, they are not responsive and may need constant reminders to learn new things. Most puppies love to play bite, bark, paw, jump on people, these behaviors may seem funny and acceptable at first, but will become a problem if owners continue to encourage them. Training may seem impossible but puppies are actually the easiest to train, their attention and memory might be a problem but because they does not have any habit at this point of time, spending time to train them will help to nurture good behavior and manners when they grow older.

Fun aside, puppies have low immunity especially those that come from pet shops/farms, the most common illnesses that newly bought puppies have are Parvovirus, Distemper, Kennel Cough and Tick fever. You should also take note that the body of puppies are fragile, during this stage you should be careful of the surroundings, things like sharp objects and high places should not be available to them without close supervision, behaviors like nudging on crates/wall and jumping should also be corrected, puppies can easily break their joints and this can affect them for life.

Puppies also have a phase which we like to call rebellious stage, this will usually happen between 5 to 8 months old and will last for about 2 months, during this phase they will attempt to challenge owners, doing things that they don't normally do to see how owners react, this is a very important stage and should not be treated lightly.

Tips
You need to be firm and patient even though they may look adorable, puppies love to have a leader to guide them through. Start walking and exercising your puppy after it finishes the 3rd vaccine, teach basic commands, housebreaking and boundary, soon to come you will have a healthy and well behaved adult dog.

It is highly advisable to go for a vet visit right after getting a new puppy, check for any signs of illness, ticks/fleas, go for heartworm test if you are concerned.

Pros
• best time to train
• still in it's early stages of life
• small, easy to handle

Cons
• fragile and prone to illness
• low attention span
• hyper active

Young Adult dog
Ranging between 1 to 2 years old, young adult dogs are those that have grown out of their puppy body but their mind can still think like one at times. They are still curious and playful, just like a teenager, young adults are in another transitioning phase and behaviors will change during this period of time. This is also the time that attitude will start to appear as they are starting to have a mind of their own, dogs falling into this age may get aggressive at times and discipline must be exercised to suppress any unwanted behaviors.

Though their size is fixed, young adult dogs should not be treated as a fully grown adult, they should not be treated as a puppy either, you need to balance the treatment and react accordingly, which may be confusing for new owners. This is not a recommended age for first time dog owners, young adult dogs that have developed bad habits will be harder to train because of their transitioning phase, however this does not mean that you should stop disciplining or give up your dog, showing the dog that you are still in control and being firm can help speed up the process.

Tips
Do not assume that you have fully understood your dog even if you have seen it through it's puppy stages. Some dog's behavior can totally change compared to when they were a puppy, this is not uncommon and shouldn't be taken for granted, young adult dogs needs very firm owners to let them know that you are still in charge even though they have grown bigger.

Increase the duration of exercises, teach your dog new commands, always find obstacles for dogs especially for dogs falling in between this age, they learn very fast at this point of time if not for the stubbornness, practicing good exercises can also keep their mind occupied with positive activities.

Pros
• learn fast
• still portray puppy behaviours
• still in its early stages of life

Cons
• in transitioning stage - stubborn, may start to display aggression
• puppy behaviors may backfire and cause distress to owners
• any bad habits not corrected during puppy stage will be harder to eliminate

Middle aged dog
Ranging between 3 to 7 years old, middle aged dogs are at a stage where they performs the best - they are more composed, strong and stable than when they were a puppy. Middle aged dogs are also the preferred age to compete in dog shows, especially those that are between 3-5 years old, there's a little to no transitioning of characters, therefore if the dog is well trained during it's younger days, you can expect great performance from dogs falling into this group. Of course, if the dog isn't trained during it's younger days, there will be unwanted behaviors, however it is still possible to correct middle aged dogs at this stage and you can expect pretty fast results if you do it correctly, therefore it is never too late.

As they are in their peak, dogs falling in between this category may feel strong and powerful, thus pushing their limits and may put themselves in dangerous situations if the owner does not set rules. Health may start to deteriorate once they reach 6-7 years old, dogs that are exercised and fed with quality food will do just fine as they are still in their prime.

Tips
This is a good time to adopt/foster a dog, the character of the dog is usually obvious and will not change much for years to come, meaning what you see is probably what you get, though you also need to understand that sudden change of lifestyle and over pampering can still cause a dog to become unstable.

Do consider feeding quality kibbles/raw dehydrated and refrain from human food especially for staple meals, this includes rice, cooked meat/veg and fruits. Fruits and dehydrated meat can be given as treats but should always be in moderate amount. Be very careful of your dog's diet, otherwise you might notice your it's health deteriorating faster than you expect once it reaches 6-7 years old.

Pros
• at their peak, performs best
• still trainable
• characters are more or less there

Cons
• feel strong and powerful, this could put them in dangerous situations
• need to start being careful of diet

Senior dog
This is not an age that is popular - an aging senior dog, usually aged 8 and above. Senior dogs have weaker immunity compared to young dogs, most have health issues that needs a certain amount special care and attention from their owners. Though health care sounds like a hassle, senior dogs do not need any form of training as their characters have been fixed into their mind, they are so used to their daily habits that trying to train/correct them might cause more negative than positive results, they are known to be much more stubborn and may show tantrums at times. Senior dogs also requires less exercise because of their weakened body, most have medium energy and do not appreciate fast paced walks.

Tips
To give them a happy life, always provide the best quality food that you can afford, spend more money on quality products like food, treat, collars, shampoos etc. Put aside more time with them, bring them for slow but long walks, make sure their teeth stays as clean as possible and provide supplements if needed.

Try not to introduce a new dog at this point of time, senior dogs do not adapt easily and may show aggression/fear towards new things, if you really need to add an additional member then you will need to teach the new dog to behave, the senior dog must always be set as the leader no matter how many dogs there is in the house (note that this applies to dogs only, the oldest dog should always be the one to lead other dogs.), so the sequence is adults - baby - senior dog - new dog.

If you are someone that wants to get a senior dog but do not have a lot of experience then it will be advisable to get one that had already been trained well when it was young.

Pros
• does not need a lot of exercises
• does not need training
• not as active (good for people that cannot handle hyperactive dogs)

Cons
• more prone to injuries/health problems
• does not adapt easily
• may not have favorable appearance compared to younger dogs

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