Adult dogs

He’s confident, armed with knowledge, and ready to make his way in the world (that is, of course, on leash). While dogs of all ages require care and attention, adulthood is a relatively low-maintenance stage in the canine life cycle.

It’s also the perfect time to adopt. Adult dogs are likely housetrained and beyond the mouthy, jumpy phases of puppyhood and adolescence, but they have plenty of active, healthy, loving years ahead of them.

What defines the stage

You’re still the leader and caregiver in his eyes, but your dog may become less of a dependent and more of a companion in yours. And while bonding takes place throughout your relationship, many people report that this is the time when they begin to truly feel close to their dogs.

Sound corny? Don’t be surprised when he’s able to gauge your emotions and moods in the same way you are able to read his.

During the adult years, your dog will:

  • Settle into his size and personality. His height and weight should level off, as he is fully grown, and his basic temperament will be well established.
  • Mellow out. Your dog’s constant, urgent need to play will probably dim a little. Don’t expect to find him curled up with a good book (unless he’s chewing on it), but he may not protest if your fetch session is shortened by a toss or two.
  • Continue to mature mentally, although the signs may be more subtle. At this stage, there won’t be huge jumps in his development, but it’s still important to provide plenty of learning and training opportunities.

Things to keep in mind

While he may not be as obnoxious about asking for it, your dog still thrives on attention from you. Remember:

Exercise–both physical and mental–is a good thing. Even if he graduated number-one in his puppy kindergarten class, obedience courses or one-on-one training sessions keep him mentally sharp and stimulated.

See the vet once a year. A well-balanced diet and plenty of exercise make for a solid foundation, but medical issues can arise at any time during your dog’s life. It’s a good idea for him to have an annual physical. (The visit may also include necessary vaccinations or boosters, a dental assessment, a heartworm test, or a fecal exam.)

Bottom line: Now that his paws are finally in proportion to the rest of his body, surprises are relatively few. Adult dogs require less supervision than puppies, and if you’re looking to adopt, they make excellent candidates. But remember, even though your dog’s more independent now, he still needs plenty of exercise and a good deal of attention from you.