You probably share an experience with many of the more than 63 million American households that have invited a dog into their home. Children have their terrible twos. Canines have their trying six months. You may find yourself asking, when will my puppy calm down?
It’s helpful to understand what is going on in your pup’s world to put his behavior in perspective. It can also provide insights into what you should do so that you can keep your sanity.
Puppy Growth Stages
Unlike other mammals like deer and cows, puppies are born virtually helpless or altricial. They can’t see or hear much. Of course, they can’t fend for themselves, much less walk. Everything that happens during development is occurring for the first time.
It’s pretty scary when you think about it. No wonder your pet cries at night or gets nippy during playtime. It makes sense, too. A mother must continue hunting to provide food for her young. She wouldn’t be too successful with a litter of puppies in tow. Your pet will begin hearing and seeing around two weeks old.
Transitional Stage (2–4 Weeks)
Several things happen during this time that affects how calm a puppy may or may not seem. Your dog is learning the sound of his voice as it goes from yelping to barking. Pups have a lot to say during this stage. It’s not a time to silence him. He’s just figuring out he can communicate with you and others.
Awareness Stage (3–4 Weeks)
One of the most significant events in your puppy’s life happens now. He’s figuring out that he is a dog! Isn’t that a reason to get excited? Your pet is over the moon with this discovery, making being calm the last thing on his little mind.
Socialization Stage (3–12 Weeks)
This stage represents a vital one for determining when your puppy will calm down. He’s figuring out that you’re a human and different from dogs. He’s also starting to build those all-important socialization skills. How he navigates through this time will play a direct role when he settles down as a canine companion.
It’s imperative to expose your pet to various new things, such as other dogs and people. Without this contact time, he'll grow up fearful of others and his surroundings. It could affect whether or not your puppy will ever calm down. If your puppy is scared, he’ll act out and bark, nip, or show other undesirable behaviors.
You should also get your pet used to your handling him. That means playing with his ears and paws to make grooming more manageable and less traumatic for both of you. If you don’t, you’ll have a battle on your hands every time you have to clean his ears or clip his nails.
We cannot overemphasize the significance of this period. If you want to put your pup on the fast track toward calming down, you must take the lead as a pet owner. It’s an excellent time to enroll your pet in puppy playtime. Take him for frequent walks. Many retail stores, such as Lowes, welcome dogs. Use this time to expose your pooch to new situations.
We’d suggest encouraging passersby to interact with your pup. Maybe give them a treat to offer your pet to make a positive association with people and good things. Active time will do double-duty with curbing unwanted behaviors, too.
There are two times in a puppy’s life when they are most vulnerable to the long-lasting effects of traumatic experiences. It is one of those times. Think about your childhood. If something frightening happened to you as a kid, you probably still remember it to this day. It’s the same with your pet. The goal is a happy puppyhood for a calm adult dog.
Status Stage (3–6 Months)
You can think of this time as the puppy equivalent of the teenage years. Being calm is not on their radar as they test their bounds, sometimes pushing the limits with their independent streak. It is also another fear impact period, where you want to avoid traumatic experiences. Like teens, it’s driven by changing hormones as they reach sexual maturity.
Puppies are relatively malleable at this time since their brains are still developing. Row the boat in the direction that you want your pet to grow and develop. Take your dog on daily walks to provide exercise for both you and him. That will help expend any excess energy, which can help calm him down considerably, if just for the added mental stimulation.
It’s also a time to work on those every-important leash manners. It’s much easier to work with a young dog and teach him how to behave on a lead than trying to tackle this task as an adult. It’ll also cut your pet’s risk for obesity if you keep him active.
Other Factors Affecting When Your Puppy Calms Down
Two other things can play a significant part in emotional maturity, i.e., calming down. The size differences in many breeds are noticeable, referred to as sexual dimorphism. It often goes back to the breed’s historical purpose. Thus, some research suggests that males engaged in physical purposes often mature more slowly because of their larger sizes.
The other consideration is the size of the breed. Small dogs reach maturity quicker than large ones, such as Great Danes. Whereas a Chihuahua is grown up and calmer at nine months, an Irish Wolfhound won’t reach that same place until he is well over 16 months old.
Summing It Up
The term, calming down, is a suggestive one since so many things can affect it. You can control your pup’s upbringing and, thus, influence his emotional maturity. However, the effect of the breed and sex remains out of your control. The best thing you can do is provide your pet with a good start.
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