Puppy energy can seem all but limitless. But it can also mean they are always getting into trouble, eating your shoes, digging up your garden, and generally driving you a bit nuts.
As cute as a furry little ball of fury might be, you have probably caught yourself wondering, ‘when will my puppy calm down?’.
There is no single, one-size-fits-all answer. But to explain when puppies will start to calm down, we will need to discuss all the factors that play a role in a pup’s energy levels.
Read on to find out what goes into raising a calm puppy and how long it takes for them to settle down.
Puppy Energy: What You Need To Know
There are many variables involved in how much energy your pup has and how long it will take them to mature. To understand your puppy’s activity levels, we need to look at some of the factors that come into play.
Your puppy’s breed plays the most significant role in how long it will take to settle down. Low energy breeds like the Bulldog or smaller breeds like the teacup Bichon Frise should start to calm down between 6 and 12 months old, usually around 9 months.
Most other breeds will grow out of their high-energy puppy phase at between 12 and 18 months old. On the other hand, Working breeds such as the Border Collie, the Greenland Dog, and the Australian Shepherd may take up to two years to settle down and still require proper exercise.
Larger, high-energy wolfdogs like the Kugsha or American Blue Bay Shepherd could take up to 3 years or more to reach maturity. The same goes for dogs that come from generations of extreme working lines, like some German Shepherds.
Keep in mind that giant breeds like the Great Dane or the Neapolitan Mastiff are not considered adults until they are three years old either.
At least not in terms of what they referred to as emotional reactivity. While many websites suggest that males take longer to mature than females, there is no certainty.
Females reach reproductive maturity earlier than males, and this may sometimes have a calming effect on them.
There is the common misconception that having your pup spayed or neutered will ensure calmer adolescence. While some behaviors can be avoided by having your dog sterilized, such as scent marking, their energy levels are not exclusively linked to their hormone levels.
This means that neutering or spaying won’t affect a dog’s core personality. An excited, energetic pup’s character is likely to remain mostly unchanged by sterilization.
The effects of sterilization come into play later in a dog’s development, with some degree of laziness often setting in as they mature or their metabolism slowing down faster.
If you have older dogs, they should integrate your pup into the pack.
This may help mitigate energetic outbursts. Older dogs will correct a pup if they misbehave, so a healthy pack structure does help your puppy mature.
Many negative behaviors, particularly those caused by excess energy, can be reduced by having your pup form part of the pack. This helps make high-energy outbursts more manageable.
But to understand how a puppy matures, we need to look at its different developmental stages.
Puppy Energy and Their Development Stages
Newborn puppies are not particularly mobile. They spend the first week or so doing little other than building up their strength feeding. Their eyes and ears only start opening between 10 and 13 days after birth.
This heralds the start of their first canine socialization period. This is a time when interacting with their siblings is critical to their mental development. It also marks the beginning of a curiosity that goes hand in hand with their growing mobility.
At two weeks old, puppy’s eyes should be open. They are still deaf and can’t see well, but they start trying to stand up and move around by themselves.
Three weeks after birth, puppies start standing, walking, and sitting.
They are equipped to start exploring the world around them. They are stronger and more energetic. They are also utterly fearless, putting them at risk of injury. Although at this stage, they may still be careful about wandering too far from their whelping box or “den.”
By four weeks old, pups’ teeth have come in. More importantly, they are ready to run and play since they can now see, smell and hear. This means they are prepared to start making use of their stored energy and begin testing boundaries.
Five-week-old puppies will gradually be transitioning to solid foods.
The change in their diet will mean more available energy, and they need it for this stage in their development. At this stage, play teaches them bite-inhibition and the basics of being a dog. It also teaches them early pack dynamics with their siblings.
Week six sees further development, with some owners starting house training. Puppies between six and seven weeks old should be in the final weaning phase. This is also the age at which pups start ‘human socialization.’ This is where that puppy energy starts to hit home.
At eight weeks old, your pup will be fully mobile and confident in its ability to explore. They may practically be bouncing off the walls at this point. This is where exercise in the form of play becomes essential for managing a pup’s energy levels.
Nine weeks is usually the age at which pups are ready to start basic training. They are not ready for any strenuous activity. Play and training should be limited to short five-minute sessions since they have limited attention spans.
Between the ages of ten and eleven weeks, a pup should learn basic commands like sit and stay. At this age, their energy levels are likely picking up momentum. Puppies need enough stimulation and play to keep themselves calm and out of trouble.
More importantly, they need routine. At this early age, a basic daily routine will help counter some of the less desirable behaviors associated with high energy levels.
Development starts to slow down a little at this point.
At three months, they will begin teething and will need an abundance of chew toys to gnaw on. Also, ensure your house is puppy-proofed. Anything you don’t want gnawed on, such as chargers and electronics, should be safely packed away.
As the fifteen-week mark approaches, you will notice that your pup’s growth is slowing down.
At this age, they are not quite a pup anymore, and just short of adolescence. Depending on the breed, this is generally the peak of the manically energetic puppy phase.
Between sixteen weeks and six months, your pup will continue to grow, both physically and mentally. This is a hectic time in a pup’s life. They are learning their place in the world and how they relate to it.
They are also learning about boundaries in the same way humans do, by pushing them. At this age, the best way to burn off excess energy is still by play, but playtime mustn’t be frantic and overstimulating.
An overstimulated puppy cannot calm down and self-regulate. So whenever playing, the game should be fun but not so exciting that your dog no longer has any self-control.
Rather than getting your pup excited and worked up for playtime, try keeping play slow and steady. This is a good age to introduce impulse control games so that your puppy learns that calm behavior is rewarded.
Regular exercise should also be a part of your routine. While a puppy should not be made to run on a leash, they can generally walk for five minutes for every month of their age, twice a day. So a four-month-old puppy can walk for 20 minutes, twice a day, at a leisurely pace, provided it’s not too hot.
At around this age, pups are just coming out of their first socialization period. They are, however, still learning about the world around them and their place in it. This means that you should still take care of their socialization.
This is a critically important time for teaching them how to be polite adult dogs. At this age, a well-socialized pup should be outgoing. This makes training easier. It also makes it easier to burn off excess energy.
If their energy is left unchanneled, negative behaviors will start to set in. The connection between a pup’s energy level and their training and simulation is critical during this developmental phase.
Depending on the breed, your puppy might be nearly grown at this age. Small dogs and teacups can reach their adult size by six months. Females may reach sexual maturity from six months and up.
But most dogs are still in the prime of their puppy energy, requiring extra care in their routine. Play is still an excellent way to burn off excess energy, and you can take your dog for longer walks. At this age, you should be able to walk your pup for up to thirty minutes, twice per day.
Keep in mind that excessive walking can damage a puppy’s growth plates. If you have a high-energy pup on your hands, it’s best to put in extra playtime to tucker them out. This is because they can rest whenever they need to while playing.
Avoid playing that involves stairs, slippery surfaces, or jumping, which is bad for their joints.
At this age, your pup can no longer be called a puppy. Except for the giants, most of them have reached maturity, at least physically. They are ready for more challenging training and longer exercise routines.
At this age, your dog should be able to go for 60-minute walks unless they have a physical condition that prevents this.
Depending on the breed, they should still be energetic. The upshot is that they can handle more play and exercise. From this age onward, it depends mainly on the breed when the dog will reach mental maturity.
High-energy breeds like Viszslas, Belgian Malinois’s, and Alaskan Malamutes can take another year or so to start acting like adults. Giant breeds may only begin calming down around eighteen months.
Like the Greenland Dog or any dog with wolf blood, some rare breeds may never entirely calm down and will always need exceptional amounts of activity to keep them mentally balanced.
Nevertheless, the key to maintaining a calm, happy dog is routine and exercise. A dog is shaped by a routine that allows for exercise and mental stimulation and when it is time to settle down.
When Do Puppies Start to Calm Down?
Most puppies calm down as they mature. The breed determines the rate at which a pup will grow and its baseline energy levels. Training and routine are integral to raising a calm puppy.
Signs of a growth spurt
Growth spurts usually occur before the age of twelve months. During adolescence, your dog will go through rapid growth spurts.
This may cause some mild pain in their legs called panosteitis. A growth spurt may see your pup shed their puppy coat as their adult coat comes in.
A growth spurt can cause a sudden increase in your puppy’s energy levels. Signs include:
- Changes in their appetite
- Increased sleeping followed by more voracious playing
- It may be clumsier than usual
- Limbs and body parts may seem out of proportion
- May start teething
- Sometimes growth spurts are accompanied by fear periods.
How To Calm a Puppy?
It is essential that you know your breed and engage your puppy in a way that is satisfying for them.
For instance, a sighthound like a Greyhound will do best if given a chance to chase something. Pit Bulls are mouthy and will need plenty of toys to chew on and rip up. Border Collies need the mental and physical challenge of obedience training and activities like herding or agility.
Remember, a tired puppy is a calm puppy. So making sure they do something every day that tires them out will help you settle them down in their crates with a chewie or puzzle toy afterward for a nap.
You can achieve this through:
- A playdate with another puppy
- A safe walk
- Obedience training
- A game of fetch or tug
- Playing with a dog lure
Once your puppy is tired out, you can introduce place training or have specific times in the day when they know it is time to go to their crates. This should never be a punishment, but rather a pleasant time when you can enjoy a toy.
Puppies will push boundaries, so it is essential to have rules in place and to be firm about them. Never send mixed messages about what is what isn’t allowed.
But at the same time as being firm, you need to keep your head. Losing your temper with your puppy will not help them calm down. Instead, it will erode your relationship. Stay patient, allow for mistakes, and keep your interactions positive.
In general, patience, exercise, training, and routine are the best way to calm an active, high-energy puppy.
Can I Train a Hyper Puppy?
You can train a hyper puppy. It does take a bit of extra commitment, but even the busiest pup can be taught. It is important to keep training sessions short and simple. Ten minutes twice a day is plenty, which can be broken up into shorter sessions throughout the day.
Focus on simple, easy-to-learn skills like ‘sit’ and ‘fetch.’ You should only work on one skill at a time. Try not to reward negative behavior, and ignore your puppy if they become overexcited. Be careful to only reward for calm and polite behavior.
Starting basic exercise routines with tasks like ‘sit’ helps further reinforce training. Puppies are constantly learning about the world and how it relates to them. Every moment is a teachable moment if handled with care.
Although you can start training your pup as early as eight weeks, one should keep expectations in check. There will be mishaps.
Positive reinforcement is the sharpest tool in your puppy owner’s toolbox. Of all the methods you may encounter, positive reinforcement is considered the acceptable and scientifically backed training method.
It is the process of rewarding your pup to encourage a specific behavior and withholding rewards when your dog displays unfavorable behavior. Whereas harsh techniques can cause long-term damage, positive reinforcement is a safe way to train a happy pup.
A hyper pup may sometimes be frustrating to train, but your ability to remain calm and in control will affect their development.
The first step is to find the right reward. This varies greatly. It could be as simple as a piece of kibble, while other pups might need a bigger incentive, like a tasty training treat.
Some puppies are not motivated by food at all. In this case, their motivator may be a favorite toy or even something as simple as praise. Take the time to find the motivator that works.
An energetic pup can get a bit much sometimes, even for the most devoted of doggy parents. The important thing to keep in mind is that an active puppy is a healthy puppy. Patience, routine, and enough training and exercise will get you past this period to the settled, ideal adult you were hoping for.
Tamsin De La HarpeAuthor
Tamsin de la Harpe has nearly two decades of experience with dogs in rescue, training, and behavior modification with fearful and aggressive dogs. She has worked closely with veterinarians and various kennels, building up extensive medical knowledge and an understanding of canine health and physiology. She also spent two years in the animal sciences as a canine nutrition researcher, focusing on longevity and holistic healthcare for our four-legged companions.
Tamsin currently keeps a busy homestead with an assortment of rescue dogs and three Bullmastiffs.