Mental and Physical Development
Confined Exercise Exercise is essential to the physical and mental health of your puppy, and it is a great way to bond with your new companion. But when your puppy reaches 18 weeks of age, they will be in a stage of life similar to a person's teenage years. This is your puppy's rebellious stage, which may make exercising off the leash a difficult task.
A leashed walk or run is a great way for both you and your puppy to get in shape and continue to build your relationship. If you want to take your puppy off the leash, ensure that the area is confined and your puppy will not be able to run away.
Remember to change the type of exercise you do with your puppy every so often to avoid repetition and boredom.
Using Supplements Properly At 18 weeks of age, puppies often require high amounts of protein to support the growth of their maturing muscle mass. Many pet owners are tempted to give their growing puppies a daily nutritional supplement, but a high-quality puppy food is enough to supply most puppies' nutritional needs.
Supplements can actually have an adverse effect on puppies that do not require added protein, calcium or other nutrients in their diet. Too much protein and calcium can cause rapid growth that can harm the puppy's muscle and bone structures.
However, pet owners who are feeding their puppy a homemade diet or placing their puppy in advanced training programs may need to give their puppy daily nutritional supplements to ensure that the puppy is receiving all of their nutritional requirements.
If you have any questions or concerns about nutritional supplements, it is best to talk to your veterinarian.
Health and Veterinary Care
Fleas Fleas transmit diseases and parasites, and can cause allergic dermatitis, the most common skin disease in dogs. Even newborn puppies can have fleas.
Adult fleas live almost their entire 16-day lifespan on their hosts, and female fleas can lay up to 50 eggs per day in the hair of their host. The eggs quickly fall off of the host and begin maturing in the pet's environment, so wash pet bedding frequently and vacuum regularly.
Because fleas suck the blood of their host, heavy flea infestation can result in life-threatening anemia in puppies. The best way to control fleas is to choose flea-control products with insect growth regulators, which stop fleas' reproductive cycles. IGRs are found in products for both indoors and outdoors, and even for use directly on your dog.
You can also kill adult fleas on your puppy by using an insecticide and a flea comb. The labels on all flea-control products give the recommended age of use and any other restrictions. There are only a few products that can be used safely on young puppies. Consult your veterinarian for advice on safe and effective flea-control options.
Ticks Ticks are tiny arachnid parasites that attach themselves to their hosts by biting into the host's skin. Several hundred varieties of ticks, which carry diseases such as Lyme disease, exist in North America and are most commonly found during warm seasons.
Most ticks have a numbing agent in their saliva that they transfer to the bite area, so your puppy may not feel the bite. Some ticks also produce a sticky substance that keeps them in place, so your puppy's normal activities may not shake them off. Once attached, the tick will begin to feed and grow, and a heavy infestation may result in anemia in your puppy.
Although prevention is difficult, it is best to limit your dog's exposure to wooded areas or areas with high grass. Many products claim to kill or repel ticks. Check with your veterinarian for specific recommendations, and be sure to read all age and usage restrictions on any medication before using it on your puppy.
To remove a tick, grab the tick's head (not its body) with a pair of tweezers and pull it directly out. Do not use your fingers, and do not squish or twist it as you pull it out. Do not put alcohol or a hot match on the tick, as it will not cause it to release and may instead cause the tick to deposit even more disease-carrying saliva into your puppy.
Training: Sleeping Arrangements
Sleeping alone is an important part of a puppy's security and maturity, and puppies that are not taught to sleep alone can grow into adults who are anxious and fearful when they are separated from their owners.
Puppies at 18 weeks of age should be sleeping by themselves in an area that has been specifically designated as their sleeping space. Your puppy will use this space as a grown dog, too, so make sure the space can accommodate a full-grown dog.
The sleeping space for your puppy can be a rug, blanket, doggy bed or crate that has been placed in an out-of-the-way area where your puppy can rest quietly.