Mental and Physical Development
Emotional Needs and Security A nine-month-old puppy should be exhibiting independent behavior such as playing alone, sleeping alone and following household rules. A puppy at this age still needs emotional security, but they should at least be experimenting with independent behavior.
For your puppy to grow into a secure and confident adult, certain emotional needs should be met. Regular feeding schedules help to reduce any anxiety your puppy may feel about food or hunger. A specific sleeping area will give your puppy room for independence, but security in having their own space. And plenty of time interacting with you will help your puppy socialize and form a close bond.
Puppies also need a lot of mental stimulation at this age to promote independence and reduce anxiety and boredom.
Joint Health Puppies at nine months of age have not yet reached physical maturity, and their joints are still growing.
Healthy joint, muscle and bone formation reduces the risk of debilitating diseases such as arthritis and hip dysplasia later in life, but it requires specific levels of nutrients such as calcium, fat and protein. The best way to ensure that your puppy's joints and bones are growing properly is to feed them a high-quality dog food that is specific to their breed size, and to keep them at an optimal weight.
Always resist any temptation to feed your puppy a little extra. Too much food, especially for large breed puppies, can cause rapid growth and lead to musculoskeletal disorders.
Health and Veterinary Care: Hospital Stays
Some of the most common causes for hospital stays among puppies this age are accidents with cars, eating indigestible objects and drinking poisonous fluids.
Puppies at nine months of age are curious, and they will continually explore their environment. This curious tendency can land them in trouble, and puppies may end up hurt due to their explorations.
Depending on the puppy's injuries, it can cost anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars to bring your puppy back to full health after an accident with a car. Gastrointestinal surgery, which may be needed to remove indigestible objects from the puppy's stomach or intestines, typically costs around $2,500. Treating a puppy that has ingested a toxic fluid, such as antifreeze, usually costs less than $1,000.
Reduce your puppy's chances of falling into harm's way by keeping them on a sturdy leash and collar when outside and puppy-proofing your home. This includes securely stowing any toxic household items such as cleaners and insecticides, keeping all houseplants out of your puppy's reach, and picking up any sharp or easily swallowed items.
Training: Agility Training
At nine months old, most puppies are able begin agility training. However, if you choose to pursue this hobby, you must train your puppy on equipment specifically designed for puppies, and you must be very careful. The growth plates on the bones of most puppies do not close until around one year of age, and puppies should not perform any high jumps or advanced agility maneuvers until the plates close.
If you are interested in agility training for your puppy, you can use a professional trainer or purchase the equipment and train your puppy at home. The equipment needed to train puppies includes a low A-frame that is no more than four feet off the ground, a small teeter-totter that does not tip more than a few feet and small one-foot-high boxes for jump training.
Keep the training lessons to about 10 to 15 minutes and perform them at least twice a day.