No matter the breed, puppies are small bundles of life zooming everywhere without a care in the world. They love to have fun and can’t get enough of it. This can pose a great deal of stress for puppy owners who can struggle to keep up with their intensity all of the time leaving many first time owners wondering if this is what they’re going to be like forever.
When will my puppy start to calm down is a common question we get from first time owners – often they expect them to sleep all of the time like a human baby would and underestimate just how much force is behind an 8-week old puppy (this is the youngest age they should be taken away from their mothers).
Article at a glance
This is a long article, here is a summary of what’s to come if you’re short on time.
Puppyhood should be embraced by owners and puppies alike. Wishing this stage in their life can be a mistake and you’ll look back and miss it. In general, the dog should start to calm down as they go from puppyhood to adolescence in around 6-12 months, depending on the following factors:
- The quality of training provided by the owner
- How much exercise they get
- How much attention they get
- The type of breed they are
- How much they’re allowed and encouraged to socialise with other dogs
- The size of the breed
- The quality of the diet
- Whether they are male or female and if they’re neutered or not
- How calm the owner and household is
JugDog stresses that the greatest influence on a dog to be calmer is you, the owner. The more devoted you are to creating a happy home, social life and diet the quicker and more likely your dog is to be a calm adult.
Why are puppies so full of life?
This is such a simple question to answer! At 8 weeks old puppies haven’t seen anything of the world and their brains are now developed enough to understand basic things and have an insatiable curiosity – they do not understand the concept of danger nor do they understand their boundaries. To put it simply, they want to see everything, they don’t understand how to conserve energy properly and have not been trained outside of what their mother has done.
Some may see puppies as ‘naughty’ but perhaps that is a little unfair, puppies are too young to understand right from wrong which makes it impossible for them to be naughty, bad or even evil. They are simply living their life without restrictions which is essentially living free.
When will my puppy start to calm down and behave?
This is an impossible question for us to answer specifically for your dog as different breeds mature at different speeds, some dogs will be fully mature by 12 such as Jeff and other giant breeds can take 3 years. Every puppy will grow out of their puppy brain eventually but at different speeds.
However, just so we can make our readers feel better – your puppy WILL eventually calm down and give you a break and there are a lot of things you can do to speed that up and that’s managing their growing stages such as teething and start housebreaking and obedience training as soon as possible.
Here are some indicators to help determine when your dog can start to be a bit less hyper.
Physical development vs mental development
Generally, a puppy who matures into a hyper adult has more to do with their mental development rather than their physical growth, a dog growing up with no obedience training or mental stimulation can grow up and remain hyper and ‘naughty’ as they have not been taught otherwise. Giving dogs boundaries and teaching them right from wrong is healthy and will lead to a happy and calm adult.
Owners of puppies should understand that dogs will not automatically grow out of their puppy phase without intervention. Only some breeds are naturally calm and even then it is not guaranteed.
Owners should work on puppies mental development from day 1 if they want them to calm down quicker.
Training is the absolute key to calming a dog down quickly and effectively. No doubt about it. Training helps a puppy understand their boundaries and what is acceptable and what it isn’t. Generally, when people describe their dog as hard work it’s because they keep doing things they shouldn’t do. Therefore, teach them what they shouldn’t do and keep working on it until they get it.
This could take weeks but during that time they will gradually become more and more obedient – they will still be full of life and rambunctious but they will do it safely and not overstep their mark as often.
If you do not train your dog they may never calm down and it may become worse.
Positive reinforcement is our method of choice to train and we used crates to housebreak. We found this highly effective and now we have a happy dog who knows his limits but yet retains the fondness of life he had during puppyhood.
Once they’ve been vaccinated, puppies need a reasonable amount of exercise every day. Think of them like a coiled spring getting tighter and tighter if they are unable to blow off some steam properly. If they’re not exercised adequately and we do mean outside of the home, then they will be hard work in the home.
Most dogs love a walk and getting your pup out and encouraging this love will only help them become relaxed – they’ll nap more, sleep more and regularly get a dose of endorphins which are released from having fun and being outdoors.
If you can’t walk them then make sure their mischievous eye is directed towards a good puppy toy so that their frustrations are released in a constructive and non-destructive way.
Some breeds are calmer than others (and vice versa)
Some breeds of dogs who belong to classes such as hunting or working are more susceptible to training and more likely to be obedient and calmer quicker than dogs who would not be classified as working or hunting.
That is not to say they won’t be rambunctious during puppyhood, however, just that the period of puppies may be shorter and it is also not suggested that they will be naturally relaxed if they do not receive any form of training or instruction from their owners or other dogs in the ‘pack’.
Some examples of working/hunting dogs
- English Setter
- Labrador Retriever
- Basset Hound
Conversely, some dogs are bred as lap dogs which are to be kept in the house as a company, these can be notoriously difficult to train and therefore more likely to be in puppy mode for longer
- Shih Tzu
To summarise this point; as training is such a key element to calming a dog down during their adolescent months/years it’s strongly suggested that some breeds are more likely to:
- Calm down quicker
- Be easier to calm down
However, this is not set in stone and there is nothing to suggest that you couldn’t get a Chihuahua obedient faster than someone with a Collie if you really put the effort into training and mental stimulation from the get-go.
Dogs are not solitary animals, they thrive on a healthy social life even if they are the only dog in the household. For a calmer dog, we recommend socialising your dog as soon as they’re vaccinated and it is safe to do so. Dogs should not fear humans or other dogs and early socialising can make them mentally healthy and stable and more of a reason for them to want to go on walks (a key aspect of a calm dog).
This is another area where we can draw parallels with human beings – having friends around you and healthy social life makes a happy and calm human – it’s just the way us and our furry friends are wired.
Although physical development and mental development are often separated it still plays a part in the growth of the grey matter in their skull. It’s natural that a dog who takes 3 years to fully mature physically such as a Great Dane will have a puppy brain for longer than a Pug who takes 12 months to mature.
With this in mind, along with all of the other points we are making, you should take this into consideration when predicting when your dog is ready to calm down mentally.
A complete diet full of meat and vegetables is crucial for a pups development; did you know good food also equates to a good attitude? Of course, you do! No one feels great if they regularly dine on fast food and takeaways and can often be ill-tempered and irritable. Pups go through the same if they’re not fed a decent meal every day.
Take care of the kind of treats you give them too as the calories and junk in them can add up, too.
Lastly, males can be a bit more boisterous than bitches especially if they are complete (not neutered). As they approach sexual maturity they can get a little heated which does settle once they become adults. This isn’t necessarily the case for pups as they are not sexually active yet but bad behaviour can suddenly reappear again when they become ‘teenagers’.
Lead by example
Having a calm household encourages your dog to be calm whereas a chaotic house full of loud noises, violence and carnage encourages the opposite. You have a duty of care for your animal to give them a safe and stable home and if you do so, you’ll be rewarded with a well behaved and mentally healthy pooch.
Puppies demand a lot of attention and they should be given it. They should also certainly not be left alone for long periods of time as this could encourage anxiety which is the total opposite of the goal of tranquillity. Prepare yourself to devote weeks to train and get to know your pup so that they can learn that you are always there for them and they can trust you.
There is no definite answer to when a particular dog will start to be less puppy and more dog, however, a range of 6-12 months based on the above factors is a good place to start.
However, we at JugDog would like to emphasise that puppies should be allowed to be puppies and it’s encouraged to embrace this stage of life as it only happens once for you and them. Often, we really miss the days where Jeff was a puppy because he would do the most adorable and innocent things which he doesn’t any more. Don’t wish their time away but do actively give them everything they need to grow up properly.
Ronnie is the JugDog site editor and a dog expert who has lived and worked with dogs his entire life. Living in St. Helens, UK with his wife son and Jug Dog Jeff Ronnie spends most of time researching the answers to the burning questions of the dog community as well as reviewing the latest and greatest dog products.