When do puppies calm down? 6 things to help your puppy be calm

Well, to a large extent, that depends on us. Read the following article to find out how your puppy develops and what you can do at each stage to help them become a calm and confident canine companion.



Helping a puppy at each phase of development:

New Born Phase (0-2 Weeks)
Transitional Phase (2-3 Weeks)
Socialization Phase (3-12 Weeks)
Phase 1 – Socialization with mother and siblings (Weeks 3-5)
Phase 2 – Preparing for a new home (Weeks 5-8)
Phase 3 – An exciting arrival in the new home (Weeks 8-12)
Juvenile Period (12 to 36 Weeks)

Good luck with your calm(er) Puppy


“When are you going to grow up?” Let’s face it, most of us were probably asked this question in our less than finest moments as children. If parents, we might have found ourselves asking our own children. But ‘When do puppies calm down?’ is not something that we can ask a cuddly and lovable canine friends. Rather it is our responsibility to understand when and how our puppy develops and learn how best to support both their physical and mental development at each stage. The end result will be a happy and confident dog who will be relaxed, calm and obedient.

But in answering the question of when do puppies calm down or mature, we must take into account both nature and nurture. In terms of nature we should be aware that both breed and size can play significant roles in the time it takes for a puppy to become calm and mature. Indeed, breed research is a vital part of choosing a dog and understand how long it might take a puppy to calm down in the transition to adulthood.

Smaller dogs like the French Bulldog are known to mature relatively quickly as are dogs in the Toy Dog Group. But Boxers are a breed known to take much longer to mature and to keep puppy-like behaviors into adulthood (although many owners lover their mischievous and clownish antics).

Other dogs, such as in the Sporting Group, do have the playfulness and energy of big puppies but able to switch on mental maturity and obedience immediately when it is required. Herding Group Dogs, such as the Old English Sheepdog, have this same zest for play and potential for training but take longer to mentally mature. Please refer to our breed guide for more information on a range of breeds and their specific temperaments, training and general upkeep needs.

Also it is important not to confuse separation anxiety with immaturity. Dogs love to be with us, and symptoms of anxiety such as excessive unwanted chewing and messing on the carpets do seem puppy-like, but are actually signs of significant stress.

There is also the simple fact that all dogs are unique. There is also an interplay between different aspects of a dogs’ maturity including physical, emotional and mental maturity. Also unique are the home circumstances to which we introduce these little bundles of fur. If, for example, there is an older well-socialized dog already present in the home this will greatly support the socialization of a puppy in having a canine mentor to help them navigate the strange, wonderful and potentially confusing world of their new home. If you are in this situation please click here for tips on introducing your puppy to an older dog.

Add to this, of course, the most important factor in a dog’s development of all. Namely, the owner(s) and how much time they are are willing to invest in understanding, training, socializing and nurturing a new puppy.

Generally speaking dogs make the transition to becoming physically, emotionally and mentally mature between the ages of 1 to 2 years old. But the following article explores things that we need to consider in evaluating our own puppy’s transition to becoming a calmer and mature adult dog.

Helping a puppy to be calm at each stage of development

New Born Phase (0-2 weeks)

At this point the puppy will be with the mother and do little more than sleep and feed. The eyes are closed but the sense of smell is activated to detect the mother and the puppy is also aware of touch. The mother will lick the puppy both for comfort and to stimulate healthy bodily function such as urination and defecation. A good breeder will ensure that the puppy is handled daily as early preparation for socialization and adaptation when they are ready to leave the mother for their new home. It is also thought to promote bonding with their human family and quicker maturation, and a calmer and more balanced temperament.

Owner/Breeder intervention for a calm puppy:

The breeder must ensure daily handling to accustom the puppy to the touch of humans and health monitoring takes place.

The Transitional Phase (2-3 Weeks)

This is a period of rapid physical development for the puppy when eyes and ear canals open and an exciting world to explore unfurls before their developing senses. At around 3 weeks the puppy is also teething. As part of the transition to the socialization stage puppies will begin to play with their siblings. They also become slightly more independent as they take control of their own toiletry habits and begin to crawl and tumble around.

2. Owner/Breeder Intervention for a calm puppy:

The breeder should continue to handle the puppies holding them in a different variety of positions in order to stimulate them and prepare them for change and adaptation as they continue to develop. Continued health monitoring based on weighing and observing the puppy’s’ behavior is also key.

when do puppies calm down?
The mother will encourage the gradual independence of her pups

Socialization (3-12 Weeks)

From this point the puppy is being molded by experiences it has, its environment and interactions with both people and dogs. All dog behaviorists agree that this is the most vital window in a dog’s development in which to ensure a puppy develops into a relatively calm and balanced dog. Look at this period as building the foundations of a pet dog’s temperament and enabling them to be happy, confident dogs. But also, just as vitally, you need to be a relaxed dog owner who feels in control and able to successfully manage potentially stressful situations that can occur as your puppy matures.

Phase 1 – Socialization with mother and siblings (Weeks 3-5)

At this point physical development continues at pace and a puppy develops a range of communication strategies interacting with their litter-mates including barking, growling and wagging their tails as well as some body postures.

The play fighting becomes more animated alongside pretend ‘killing’ which is exhibited by sudden shaking of the head and ‘carrying the prey’ or small chewable toys in their mouths. At this point the teeth are more developed and the puppies can inflict pain on each other. It is from this negative reaction of play-mates that a puppy begins to learn about bite-inhibition and the boundaries of bite-force during play. This is a vital opportunity for a dog to learn how to calmly socialize with other dogs.

At the same time human interaction with the puppies should increase to further accustom puppies to learn their behavior with humans. It is important that the handler should react to any hard biting by withdrawing the hand and giving an exaggerated yell of pain mimicking the reaction of an injured puppy to move the puppy towards a more soft mouth in play.

At the same time the puppies are encouraged a little bit more independence by the mother towards the latter end of this phase as she will move away from the pups during weaning.

3. Owner/Breeder Intervention for a calm puppy:

It is important to foster and support the puppy taking its first faltering steps towards some independence. The handling should continue to handle and interact with the puppy although as noted above it is important to make the puppies aware if they bite too hard. The periods that the puppy is separated from the mother can be gradually increased to around 5 minutes and a good breeder will ensure that this in place for each puppy.

It is important at this stage that puppies have increased mental and physical stimulation and toys, boxes or old clothes should be placed in the pen for the puppies to explore. In addition the puppies should be exposed to a range of ‘ordinary’ noises and activities in the background such as vacuum cleaners, the door bell and the sound of visitors in order to prepare for the next phase of socialization as they progress to leaving their mother for their new home.

The puppies at this point should be provided with a separate area for toileting in order to help them get used to using a litter tray when they leave their mother and the nest. Once again leading to a calm puppy who else would be completely mystified why she should receive a telling off for messing on carpets when she leaves the nest for her forever home.

When do puppies calm down? Puppy arrives home.,
A very exciting arrival

Phase 2 – Preparing for a new home (Weeks 5-8)

The puppies continue to learn about social relationships and pack hierarchy through increasingly complex play with their siblings. They also begin to increase their communication skills in ‘dog’ in the range of physical postures and expressions they use.

Much of this increased understanding of social hierarchy and communication now hinges around food. Each puppy learns how to be submissive and appease those higher in the pack, primarily the mother, in order to feel secure in receiving food and protection. This prepares puppies for being submissive to their human owners who need to continue this sense of hierarchy in becoming a canine leader from the moment their furry little companion arrives.

This will mean that the puppy is calmer with a more balanced temperament as well as being responsive to commands. They will feel reassured that there is a pack leader to guide them through the exciting but strange world of their new home.

From around 6 to 8 weeks the puppy will be ready to leave for a life with their new human family.

4. Owner/Breeder Intervention for a calm puppy:

Before the puppy leaves a good breeder has ensured that the puppy has had short periods away from mother and siblings to get used to human interaction. The puppy should also have been exposed to background sounds and noises to build resilience for the initial strangeness of a new environment with their ‘human pack’.

Any prospective puppy owner should now be preparing for their new arrival through puppy-proofing the house and yard. This will include removal of anything that could be hazardous or dangerous including electrical cords, choking hazards or medication. All cleaning materials and even some poisonous house plants should be secured or removed. Any children in the house must be reminded that to securely shut doors and windows when the puppy arrives as an escape could be disastrous.

It is also important to remember that a dog’s temperament can be affected by food. So the new owner, in consultation with the breeder, should be preparing to continue a healthy and balanced diet. This needs to be largely a continuation of their current diet in order to once again give the puppy a sense of continuity to help keep them calmer in their introduction to their new lives.

Phase 3 – An exciting arrival in the new home (Weeks 8-12)

The arrival in a new environment coincides with what is called the ‘fear phase’ which means that if the puppy makes a negative association with a certain experience, for example, meeting another dog or a child, then this can imprint upon their future behavior negatively next time that they are in that situation.

The process of ensuring that this does not happen and ensuring that a puppy is confident in understanding how to react to a range of situations is called socialization and is absolutely crucial in developing a calm and obedient temperament.

But ‘the genius of dogs‘ is that they are able to adapt and are naturally keen to learn and get on with both the humans and the canines around them. But the puppy will be exposed to a bewildering range of new experiences and will need support and leadership in learning how to calmly respond to these new situations.

5. Owner Intervention for a calm puppy:

The puppy will be keen to understand its place in its new pack. It must learn that you and the rest of the family are higher than the puppy and it is important that an owner establishes themselves as ‘a canine leader’ offering security and safety for the puppy in exchange for obedience and responses to any gentle but firm correction that needs to be put in place.

Although it will be incredibly tempting to pander to every one of your puppy’s wishes this is to be avoided otherwise the puppy will begin to form the impression that they are the most important and highest ranking in the household. This means that the puppy should not be fed first, allowed to jump up at you or on to the sofa or your bed, or receive immediate attention if they whine.

It is important that any behavior that causes you stress should mean you deprive attention from the puppy by turning away and ignoring them. This will be punishment enough for the puppy, so try to avoid shouting as this will only increase the puppy’s levels of anxiety and confusion. Instead positive reinforcement such as attention, praise and treats are offered when a puppy responds to a situation in a way that you would like.

Also at this point try to expose the puppy gently to anything that could cause anxiety later on. This might include car journeys, where the puppy is ideally lodged in a safe crate, and even a friendly visit to the vet prior to vaccinations.

In addition, make sure that the puppy interacts and plays with the whole family. You will also want to mold the way your little hound will react to visitors. Try to arrange for somebody to visit in the first few days, and once again make this a positive experience, allowing visitors to interact and play with your puppy.

There are two things that are very therapeutic in a puppy or dog’s life. Once is exercise and the other chewing. Your puppy should enjoy lots of play with your family in the first few days before being allowed out.

Also try to provide safe, chewable items that will also act as a distraction from anything like a new pair of gloves which you would have preferred without puppy-teeth sized holes. Any games or the opportunity to play with a range of different toys or objects will heighten and stimulate the puppy’s brain function again leading to a calmer disposition as the puppy grows.

When do puppies calm down? Showing a puppy an exciting but strange new world
Showing a puppy an exciting but sometimes confusing world

Juvenile Period (12 to 36 Weeks)

At this point, the puppy will not yet be a calm adult. But she can certainly be a respectful juvenile who is always ready to learn and be capable of reacting to situations relatively calmly.

6. Owner intervention for a calm dog

At this point a whole series of interactions should be provided. This should certainly include meeting and interacting with dogs outside. This could even include taking your new family member on holiday or, if feasible, to work with you.

A well-adjusted puppy will also enjoy training classes which will be stimulating, exciting and provide another golden opportunity for positive socialization with other dogs. It also provides what is an important equivalent to a parenting class for dog owners who want to have as an enriching experience as possible with their beloved owners.

Continue with this, and depending on breed, you can look forward to a mature, calm, balanced and biddable temperament within 1 to 2 years.

Good luck with your calm(er) puppy

“When do puppies calm down?”. The answers lies within us, rather than the cute bundles of fur that come into our lives and change them forever.

Ensure, most of all, that you get your puppy from a reputable breeder who has offered the early socialization and care so crucial to having a dog who is both calm and confident in the future. They should have a website, social media presence and/or a range of testimonials.

Also research the breed using a guide to ensure you choose a dog with energy levels and temperament that will suit your lifestyle. This will lead to a harmonious, calm and canine-friendly home where you can bond with your precious pet with all the enrichment that a dog brings into your life.

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