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Everyone loves puppies because they’re super cute and fun! When talking about puppies, many people gloss over the other aspect of owning a puppy – they are very stressful and hard work!
As stressful and challenging as puppies can be, rest assured that the difficulty is just a phase, and puppies do get easier! Dealing with the puppy mayhem can be worth it to come out with a lovable, well-trained companion!
But now you may be asking, when do puppies get easier?
Generally, puppies get easier when they reach 8 to 10 months of age. At this age, they’re potty-trained, done with teething, finished the various puppy developmental stages, and can stay focused enough on training to learn basic manners. Once they reach full maturity around 2 years old, they become easy dogs.
If your puppy seems particularly difficult or troubling right now, don’t panic! It’s important to understand that those difficult puppy phases won’t last forever. With patience, time, and good training foundations, you’ll end up with an easy adult dog who can be your faithful companion for years to come.
Now, let’s unpack everything there is to know about puppy behavior, so you can be prepared when you bring a puppy home!
What Are Puppy Blues?
Have you ever heard of the term “puppy blues”? Not many people have heard of this, but this is one of the most important things to discuss when we talk about bringing a puppy home.
Puppy blues, or post-puppy depression, is a term to describe feelings of disappointment, exhaustion, depression, anxiety, anger, or overwhelm after bringing home a new puppy. While puppy blues may not be a diagnosable condition, the feelings you experience are genuine and valid.
Even though so many people praise the many mental health benefits that dogs can have on people, bringing home a new puppy can be as overwhelming as bringing home a new baby.
Dealing with puppy blues can be challenging and complicated for owners to handle. You may sometimes feel like you don’t even like your dog, and many people feel guilty seconds after they have that thought.
It’s important to know that experiencing puppy blues doesn’t make you a bad owner! Puppies are difficult, and just because you may not enjoy them at the moment doesn’t mean you don’t love them. You still have plenty of time to build that deep and long-lasting connection with your dog that made you want to take home a puppy in the first place!
How Long Do Puppy Blues Last?
There is no set timeline for puppy blues. Everyone experiences puppy blues differently, and not all dog owners experience puppy blues to begin with. Typically, puppy blues last anywhere from a few days to a couple of weeks, but they can even last months.
Though the name “puppy blues” references puppies, it’s important to note that you can experience these feelings anytime you bring a new dog into your household, no matter the dog’s age.
The good news is that the feeling of puppy blues usually resolves on its own once you and your puppy have established a consistent routine and made progress with basic training. Once your puppy starts to get easier, the feelings of puppy blues will start to go away!
Puppy Developmental Phases
Did you know that puppies go through developmental phases just like humans? While each puppy may experience these phases to different extents and at slightly different ages, all puppies go through these phases.
Understandably so, puppies are the most challenging when they’re younger. It’s important to understand the developmental phase that your puppy is in because that phase will impact how easy or difficult your puppy is at any given time. Puppies become more manageable as they mature, become potty trained, have a consistent schedule, and understand basic manners.
8-12 Weeks Old
Puppies 8-12 weeks old are just beginning to learn about their environments and the world around them. They’re soaking up everything they can like a little sponge.
Puppies at this age go through a significant “fear period.” It’s essential to socialize them properly and use lots of reward-based training. Since puppies are so sensitive during this phase, it’s crucial to ensure they don’t have any negative or frightening experiences because that can have long-term effects.
While you might be more sleep-deprived than usual during this stage in an attempt to potty train your puppy, puppies at this age are pretty easy! For the most part at this age, a puppy’s day revolves around sleeping, eating, and working on potty training.
Puppies at this age generally sleep for 18-20 hours. Even though they extend a lot of energy, they also need to sleep a lot! Getting the right amount of sleep is crucial to make sure that they are developing properly both physically and mentally. Since your puppy will be asleep most of the day in this stage, they’re pretty easy!
12-24 Weeks Old
Starting around 12 weeks, puppies become more confident and curious, and their personalities develop.
Most puppies go through a teething phase during this age. Their permanent teeth start to erupt, so they can become destructive as they explore the world with their mouth and begin to chew on everything. This is when things can become a little more difficult.
6 to 12 Months Old
Welcome to the teenage years! At this age, dogs are becoming adolescents, and their behaviors vaguely resemble humans in their adolescent phase!
Puppies 6-8 months old are undoubtedly one of the most frustrating phases of life that most owners experience. Puppies this age become assertive and start to test boundaries. They get bored quickly and need lots of physical exercise and mental stimulation to keep them happy.
Some dogs may experience a second fear period during this phase as well. It’s also not uncommon for puppies to regress in their potty training around 6-7 months old. Some puppies may also regress in other areas like crate training as well.
The good news is that just like the problematic younger phases, this is also a short phase that will pass! Luckily after this phase, your puppy is pretty much done with the puppy antics and will bloom into a lovely adult dog with a deep bond to their favorite person!
12 to 18 Months Old
Congratulations, you’ve officially made it through the puppy phase!
Most dogs reach emotional maturity between 12-18 months old, and what you see is what you get! Their temperament and personality are solidified at this point and will be who they are throughout their adult life.
Generally speaking, larger dogs take longer to reach physical and emotional maturity. Just because your dog is technically an adult now doesn’t mean that puppy energy leaves them overnight. Young adult dogs can still be energetic and go through some crazy antics, but overall, they’ll be much easier to handle now with proper training.
At What Age Do Puppies Get Easier?
This entire article is intended to provide all the information about the different developmental phases a puppy goes through and how that affects them.
Puppies require a lot of work, dedication, and time. Naturally, as a puppy develops, some phases they go through will be easier than others and vice versa.
Generally speaking, most dog owners breathe a sigh of relief once their puppy turns about 8 months old. At this age, most people feel confident that they’ve made it through the most challenging phases. Simply put, puppies become overall easier around 8 months old.
Why do we consider puppies easier at this age?
The key factor is that by 8 months old, your puppy should be fully potty trained. Having this one aspect of puppy ownership behind you will make everything else seem so much easier! Potty training a puppy requires constant supervision and going outside every 2-3 hours, including at night. Once you have a potty-trained puppy, you can start to relax a little and sleep through the entire night without waking up to an accident!
Puppies at this age are also done with their teething. Since their mouth is no longer painful, they won’t be constantly looking to put things in their mouth and bite and chew. You probably won’t have to pull random objects out of your dog’s mouth as often, and your puppy should be less mouthy with your arms and hands when you play! They may still try to eat the occasional item that they’re not supposed to but play time will be much less stressful!
And finally, puppies are this age just have more life experience! They have an understanding of what everyday life looks like.
Plus, all of the time you’ve spent training should be starting to pay off! They’ll be able to go for walks now without pulling as much, and they know to sit instead of jumping all over you when you come home from work. Maybe most importantly, they aren’t quite as busy and into everything, and they finally know how to lay down and relax for a bit!
This is the stage where you’ll see your months of hard work finally paying off. You’ll be able to catch glimpses of what a wonderful dog you’ll have by your side for many years to come!
While your new puppy may challenge you with difficult moments once you bring them home, try to keep your eye on this prize! All of those exhausting days and training moments are what sets the foundation to have a wonderfully trained and easy adult dog!
How Do You Survive the Puppy Stage?
Now that you understand the background information on the developmental phases of a puppy, it’s pretty evident that puppies can be challenging for different reasons at different stages in their life.
Doting on a puppy is exhausting and can leave you feeling drained. It can often seem like a never-ending cycle of cleaning up messes, removing toys from their mouth, taking them out for potty breaks, working on training, and rinse and repeat!
Luckily, there are simple strategies to make life with a puppy easier!
Create a Consistent Schedule
Just like humans, puppies thrive on consistency and routine, so sticking to a regular schedule is essential. Set a schedule to wake up, eat, play, train, go on potty breaks, and sleep at the same time every day- even when it’s raining. While this might feel monotonous to you, this will help your puppy tremendously.
Plus, this will help potty train your puppy. Getting on a consistent schedule will help your puppy be easier to deal with overall!
When you’re creating your consistent schedule, don’t forget to include nap time! Have you ever seen a tired puppy who refused to go to sleep?
Like human babies, overly tired puppies become cranky and may bark, chew, or even bite more. Growing puppies need lots of sleep, so making sure they have regular nap times is healthy for them!
Place your puppy in his crate or exercise pen with a toy. Even if he seems restless initially, give him some time to settle down. Chances are your puppy will fall asleep on his own because he’ll be so tired!
Provide Plenty of Physical Exercise
Exercising puppies is a hot topic of debate! Puppies do need physical exercise to burn energy and stay healthy, but it’s essential to be careful when exercising puppies. As a puppy’s bones and joints are still developing, it can be harmful to over-exercise them.
In general, avoid exercise that involves heavy impact, like jumping. As a rule of thumb, it’s best to break up activities into multiple shorter chunks of time throughout the day instead of one solid block of exercise time.
Check with your veterinarian to ensure you meet your dog’s specific exercise needs. Still, most veterinarians generally agree that a few short walks around the block with a couple of play sessions at home is safe, appropriate, and even beneficial for most puppies.
Provide Plenty of Mental Stimulation
Mental stimulation is just as important as physical exercise for puppies! You should always ensure that your puppy has access to various toys to choose from in case they’re bored.
Interactive puzzle toys, treat dispensing toys, or snuffle mats are all great examples of toys designed to engage your dog’s brain. Not only do these toys engage your dog’s brain, but they also keep them busy for extended periods.
Teething puppies also need access to chew toys, like bully sticks. Chewing is a calming activity for dogs and makes your dog’s gums feel better too! This video has a few other ideas that worth checking out:
Reward Good Behavior
There is a common saying among dog trainers – “what gets rewarded will get repeated,” because it’s true! The basic principle of good dog training is to reward your dog for offering a nice behavior. The more you reward your dog, the more likely they are to perform this behavior in the future!
You can reward your dog for any behavior like sitting, laying down, and even cute tricks like high fives. Be sure to reward your dog for being calm, though! Often, dog owners are so busy spending their time teaching their dogs to do something that they often forget to reward the dog for simply being calm. This is important!
For most dogs, it’s not natural to be content lying down, being still. Dogs are used to being up and moving! When you see your dog relaxing calmly, reward them! Your dog will then learn how to relax.
Take Some Time Off
Raising a puppy is practically a full-time job. In fact, many people even take leave for a week or more from their full-time job to stay at home to care for a new puppy. Puppies can’t fend for themselves, so it’s up to you to take care of them 24/7.
Being stuck with a puppy can be draining, so it’s essential to understand that it’s okay to ask for some time off! Just a few hours off from puppy duty can leave you feeling refreshed and re-energized or even allow you to take a nap or get back into some hobbies you’ve been missing out on.
Most people love puppies, especially if it’s only for a few hours! They can enjoy the fun and cute puppy without the added stress of early morning wake-up calls or constantly cleaning up messes. Ask a friend, family member, dog trainer, or pet sitter if they’d be willing to come over and watch your puppy for a few hours while you recharge!
At What Age Are Puppies The Most Difficult?
Unfortunately, there is no set age for this. All puppies are different. Plus, each owner may differ on what they consider difficult. Some people may be more frustrated by the constant chewing, while others are more annoyed by accidents on the family’s heirloom rug.
Generally, most people consider young puppies around 2 to 3 months old still learning potty training to be the most difficult. During this stage, puppies must be watched constantly and taken out regularly. The constant supervision and lack of sleep can be extremely draining and exhausting for an owner.
As mentioned in the Puppy Developmental Phase section above, there are pros and cons to all stages that a puppy goes through. The good news is that each phase is just that – a phase – that will pass! As your puppy matures and learns potty training and basic manners, he will get easier! Don’t fret!
What Age Are Puppies The Naughtiest?
There is no doubt that any puppy of any age can be naughty! Puppies do naughty things as they learn and explore the world.
Puppies seem to be at their naughtiest as their confidence grows and they go through the pain of teething. Around 3 to 6 months old, they’re becoming more confident as they explore the world and their personality develops. At this time, they’re also dealing with that painful teething that makes them want to chew and bite.
While this is a normal phase that all puppies go through, puppies seem to be at their naughtiest during this time. Since puppies are extra bitey and mouthy with their newfound confidence and teething pain, they tend to put anything and everything in their mouth!
When Do Puppies Become More Independent?
As puppies age and learn the rules of the world, they’ll naturally become more independent as they develop confidence and real-life experience.
Puppies start to become more independent once they enter their adolescent phase, around 6 months old.
They should be finished with potty training at this age, so you won’t need to keep such a constant watch on them. They’ll also have some training under their belt and understand what are and are not acceptable behaviors.
While they’ll still have moments of pushing the boundaries as a typical teenager does, they have a general understanding of basic manners by this age. They should also understand the premise of training – good behavior gets rewarded – so they’re likely to try to earn reinforcement by being good.
It’s no doubt that puppies are hard work. As with most things in life, there are pros and cons to raising a puppy from such a young age.
As your puppy grows, it’ll enter different developmental phases. These phases are a part of your dog’s biology, so they will impact how your dog behaves.
The good news is that there are several strategies that you can implement to make life with your puppy easier! It’s also important to remember to be consistent with training! Your puppy depends on you to show him the ropes of the world and train him to be a good dog.
Even though raising a puppy can be challenging with difficult moments, all of these different puppy phases will eventually pass. You’ll end up with a well-trained dog who will be your faithful companion for years.