Mental and Physical Development
Becoming Pack Leader To both increase the bond you have with your puppy and improve their behavior, you need to build on their natural pack mentality. If your puppy recognizes you as pack leader, they will not develop the unwanted behavior that occurs when a dog thinks they are the dominant member of a household.
Follow these simple rules to establish your position as pack leader:
- Give affection only when your puppy earns it. Ask them to come to you and sit before you pet them. - Always go out the door before your puppy. - Make your puppy stay beside or behind you during walks. - Set rules, boundaries and limitations in your home, and always make your puppy abide by them.
Changes in Feeding Habits If you have been feeding your puppy three or four times a day, you should reduce the frequency to twice a day at 16 weeks.
Your puppy may be adjusting to a lower caloric need that began around 15 weeks old, so you may notice that they don't eat as much. This is normal, although there is substantial variation among breeds.
You can tell if you are feeding your puppy the right amount of food by closely watching their appearance. If you notice that your puppy is gaining weight or developing a boxlike appearance, you should slowly reduce the amount of food they eat and monitor their weight closely. Wait at least a week before you make further adjustments to their diet. Consult with your veterinarian if you have any questions or concerns about your pet's diet and weight.
Health and Veterinary Care: Teething
Starting around 16 weeks, your puppy's baby teeth will begin to fall out. Most of these teeth are swallowed with the puppy's food, and you will never see them. Permanent teeth will start to replace baby teeth at this age, and your puppy will chew even more than they did when their baby teeth were coming in.
Just as you did when your puppy's baby teeth were emerging, you'll need to give your puppy chew treats or chew toys, such as a frozen rope toy or a rawhide chew toy, to alleviate the discomfort they'll be experiencing.
Although the schedule varies by breed, all 42 of your puppy's permanent teeth should be in by the time they are six to eight months old, and their need to chew should begin to wane.
Training: Biting and Chewing
When puppies are teething they will chew on anything, and their oral fixation can lead to a biting habit. Giving your puppy the right teething products and training them not to bite will ensure that you -- and your things -- survive this stage in your puppy's life.
If your puppy chews or bites you, even during play, give a loud, high-pitched yelp or "No!" to let them know they're hurting you, and stop interacting with the puppy immediately. This will make them learn that playing rough means no playing at all. It is very important that you never hit or slap your puppy when they bite, as it can result in increased aggression or fear of people's hands.
To keep your puppy from chewing on household items, provide a variety of chew toys that do not resemble household objects -- no shoe-shaped toys, for example. Some pets can become easily bored with toys, so rotate toys frequently. When you introduce a new toy, place the old one in a clean plastic bag for storage and bring it back out at a later date. When you see your puppy chewing on anything except a chew toy, give a stern "No!" and replace the object with a chew toy. Pet and praise your puppy as they chew on the appropriate toys.