Mental and Physical Development: The Emergence of the Alpha Male
Puppies begin to reach sexual maturity between six and 14 months, depending on the breed. As a male puppy begins to sexually mature, he will begin to display dominant behavior and jockey for position as the alpha male.
Puppies typically begin to practice or test alpha-male behavior around seven months of age. The puppy will become more territorial and possessive over his home, toys, food and favorite person.
But the type of behavior that helps an alpha male succeed in the wild is unacceptable in a human household. Any type of aggressive or dominant behavior that emerges at this age needs to be dealt with immediately.
Neutering your puppy and using behavioral-modification techniques, such as consistently asserting your dominance over the puppy, will help to reduce or eliminate this type of behavior.
Health and Veterinary Care: Chocolate Toxicity
Dogs love sweets -- especially chocolate. But because chocolate contains the stimulant theobromine, dogs can die from eating it. Theobromine has little effect on humans, but can cause shaking, seizures, increased heart rate and death in dogs of any age.
It is important to keep chocolate away from puppies because of their big appetites and small sizes. Approximately 50mg to 100mg of theobromine per pound of body weight can kill a dog.
Different types of chocolate contain different amounts of theobromine. White chocolate has very little theobromine, but milk chocolate has about 44mg per ounce, semisweet chocolate about 150mg per ounce and baker's chocolate about 390mg per ounce. This means one ounce of baker's chocolate could be enough to kill a dog that weighs nearly eight pounds.
For a table of the toxicity of types of chocolate, go to the Veterinary Support Personnel Network.
Training: Playing with People
Puppies naturally play rough, and they can be possessive over their toys. To help your puppy overcome their instincts and learn how to play with people, you will need plenty of toys and a few training tips.
Puppies should play only with toys, and some of the best games for puppies are fetch games and find games. Once your puppy has fetched or found a toy, tell the puppy to come to you and drop the toy. This will reduce possessive behavior toward toys and teach puppies the right way to play. Always reward positive behavior with plenty of praise and petting.
Children often have a tendency to play with puppies using their hands, but this can lead to biting. If your puppy becomes possessive or aggressive, stop the playtime immediately and ignore the puppy for 10 to 15 minutes.