Mental and Physical Development
Emotional Maturity Your puppy's physical growth has begun to slow down by 17 weeks of age, but their mental growth is increasing at a rapid rate. Your puppy is ready to apply their newfound emotional maturity to relationships and learning about their world.
For a puppy, reaching emotional maturity means they start to understand the consequences of their behavior and they are ready to begin more advanced training and obedience lessons.
Many pet owners notice a change in their relationship with their puppy at this age. A maturing puppy will start to learn that a human companion is not only a mother or father figure but also a friend and companion.
Weight Gain Your puppy's bones and muscles are beginning to mature at this age. Many puppies look leaner as they lose their puppy fat and gain muscle tone and bone mass. Although your puppy may appear thinner, they should actually be gaining weight due to the addition of heavier muscle and bone mass.
Puppies should continue slow but steady weight gain, and any type of weight loss warrants an examination by a veterinarian. Weight loss in puppies at 17 weeks of age could be a signal of a parasitic infection, such as tapeworm or roundworm, or a sign of an intestinal protozoa infection such as Giardia.
If your 17-week-old puppy has begun advanced exercise or training classes, you may need to feed them slightly more to compensate for the extra calories burned during these activities.
Health and Veterinary Care: Tapeworms
A tapeworm infection isn't deadly but you should be prepared to handle it. Symptoms of tapeworm include debilitation and weight loss, but the easiest way to tell if your puppy is infected is to watch for tapeworm segments, which look like small grains of rice, in their feces.
A tapeworm's long journey begins when an infected dog passes tapeworm segments, which are full of eggs, in their stool. Flea larvae ingest the segments, infecting the larvae with tapeworm eggs. When a dog infested with infected fleas chews on their fur or skin, they may ingest a flea, transferring the tapeworm. Once the tapeworm matures in the dog's small intestine, it hooks itself to the intestinal wall and absorbs nutrients as food passes through.
A veterinarian can diagnose tapeworms through visual inspection of your puppy's stool, but a regular analysis does not always detect infestation. Once diagnosed, treatment is easy and very effective. The best way to prevent an infection is to be diligent in flea control, and to dispose of animal feces quickly.
Training: Jealous Behavior
By 16 or 17 weeks, puppies will try to identify their position in the pack by exhibiting dominant or possessive behavior. Jealousy is common at this age, but there are many ways to nip this behavior in the bud.
- Introduce your puppy to other people, pets or children. - Pet your puppy while you are giving attention to other people, pets or children so your puppy will associate sharing your attention with a positive feeling. - Give your puppy plenty of attention, but do not give them attention every time they demand it. - Do not reward your puppy with attention when they act jealous. Instead, completely ignore this type of behavior.