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Puppy club: dog development and useful advice

Everybody loves a puppy! Follow your new pet's journey and get useful tips on what to expect - so you are fully prepared to meet your dog's needs at every stage

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Key milestones

Growing puppies have different nutritional needs from adult dogs. To give your puppy the best start towards a long and healthy life, it's important to provide them with a diet specifically designed for puppies throughout the growth phase. The length of this phase will depend on the size of the dog, with smaller-breed puppies maturing much more quickly than larger breeds.

Early socialisation and training experiences leave a positive, lasting impression on a puppy and helps them to develop into a well-mannered adult dog. 

The development of puppies can be divided into five distinct stages:

1 - The Neonatal Period

2 - The Transitional Period

3 - The Socialisation Period

4 - The Juvenile Period

5 - Adolescence

Learn more about your puppy's development, including advice about house training and socialising.

Feeding your puppy


What's the best food for your puppy? How much and how often? All breeds are so different, there's no one-size-fits-all answer - but the following tips can help you get started.

Small stomach, big appetite 

Puppies need to eat a lot of food in relation to their body weight to fuel all that growing they're doing. But until their stomach grows too, they'll need to have several small meals a day. The directions on the food tin, pouch or bag should help you get the right portion size. (If your puppy's not finishing their bowl within 20 minutes, you're probably giving them too much.) 

Your puppy's condition is the best indicator of whether you're feeding them the correct amount. When the vet checks their weight, they'll be able to confirm if your puppy's growing at a healthy rate or whether you need to adjust their diet.

What makes a good puppy food? 

Good puppy food will be specially balanced to meet your puppy's energy, protein and mineral needs. It should be easy to digest to suit your puppy's immature stomach - so make sure you choose a food that's specially designed to suit puppies, rather than adult or senior dogs. And, of course, it must be tasty enough to enjoy. 

Are supplements necessary? 

No. Too much phosphorus or calcium can cause deformities, so don't use supplements except on your vet's advice. 

The danger of overfeeding 

Overfeeding will put too much stress on your puppy's rapidly developing bones and joints and could result in permanent damage.

Plenty of clean, fresh water 

Make sure your puppy always has clean, fresh water available. If you notice that they're thirsty all the time, consult your vet. 

How much exercise do puppies need?

A half-hour walk twice a day is the usual advice, but you need to take your puppy's growth rate and body shape into account, too. 

When do I make the change to adult food?

Puppies grow very quickly, so they need specialist puppy food with extra energy, protein, calcium and phosphorus. Switching them to an adult diet too early can result in bone and joint abnormalities - you need to wait until your dog is physically mature. As a rough guide this will be:

  • 9-12 months for toy, small and medium breeds like Chihuahuas and Springer Spaniels 
  • 12-15 months for large breeds like Labradors and Retrievers 
  • 18-24 months for giant breeds like Great Danes and Newfoundlands 

If you're unsure when to switch your puppy over to adult dog food, you can always check with your vet. You can find more information about your puppy's diet on the Pedigree® website.

Liked this? Try these:

Feeding your dog

Your dog's health

Training your dog

Last updated: about 2 years ago