How Long Does The Puppy Phase Last?

Very few things in this world are more wonderful than the time your puppy is a puppy. Puppies are playful, silly, and a little crazy, and that “puppy smell” you get when they breathe on you is irresistible. 

Yes, puppies can be crazy sometimes and tend to go to the bathroom wherever their little heart desires. They chew things, cry too much, and sometimes nip too hard, but they never do it out of anger but simply immaturity. 

The thing is, if you love dogs, it’s likely you absolutely adore puppies also. They’re genuinely precious, so cute, and fluffy! It’s not surprising many pet parents refer to their puppy as their “fur baby” because, as with children, many care for their puppy as if it were a child.

I was thinking about this the other day when I was “puppy-sitting” for a friend whose dog had recently had a litter of six gorgeous Golden Retriever pups. As the six clamored all over me and played with each other, I sat there, mesmerized. As I did, a question came to me that I’ve heard from time to time; how long does the puppy phase last?

The answer is that the puppy phase lasts for about 12 to 18 months, more or less, depending on the dog, its breed, and some other factors. However, most dogs will continue to exhibit puppy-like behavior until they are about 2 years old. 

Experts and veterinarians agree that, by 18 months, most pups will have settled into their mature, adult personalities. Also, by that time, most will have become acclimated to their family and, more importantly, their place in the family hierarchy.

Now that you know how long the puppy phase lasts, I’m sure you’re curious about other aspects of their maturity. At what age are puppies most difficult, for example, and what are their other stages of development?

If so, please continue reading. I’ve got the answers to those questions below and answers to other questions related to today’s subject. It’s interesting stuff and can be helpful and enlightening for new and experienced pet parents alike. 

At what Age do Puppies Start to Calm Down?

Most puppies will start calming down between the ages of 6 to 9 months. At that point, they haven’t reached their full maturity yet, but a lot of the crazy and silly behavior they exhibited initially will be gone.

That’s not to say that they won’t occasionally act like puppies and do things that puppies do, including chewing things they aren’t supposed to, having accidents in the house, and so forth.

As with everything about puppies, some will calm down earlier than others, and some will take substantially longer to become calmer and laid back. Every puppy is different, and every situation is as well. 

Your best bet is to be patient, keep up with their training and enjoy your time with them because, soon enough, they will no longer be a puppy.

At What Age Are Puppies Most Difficult?

Like humans, puppies tend to be the most difficult during adolescence or when they’re “teenagers.” It’s not unusual for your puppy to seemingly forget all of the training they’ve been through once they reach adolescence.

Another trait that isn’t unusual is your puppy becoming much more stubborn, which can be problematic as they get bigger and stronger. Like teenagers, your puppy will want to get out of its “comfort zone”  and explore, which can cause problems and stress for both of you. 

Keeping in mind that all puppies are different, it can take 6 to 12 months and 18 to 24 months for your puppy to begin and end its adolescent period. 

During this time, like human teenagers, your puppy will experience dramatic hormonal changes in its body. Their brain will also be reorganized, which is one reason they seem to go a little nuts during adolescence.

Some of these hormones affect their energy levels and increase them dramatically, which can cause some problems. If you ask your puppy to stop doing something, for example, many times, they won’t even (if they did before).

As with all things related to raising puppies, it’s best to take their behavior with a grain of salt, stay calm and be as patient with them as possible.

What are the Stages of Puppy Development?

Puppies go through five stages of development in the first 18 to 24 months of their life. As you probably guessed already, they grow through the stages differently and at their own pace. The 5 stages of puppy development include:

Stage 1: Neonatal. (0 to 3 weeks)

Unless your dog has puppies, you won’t see this stage of your puppy’s life. These are the first weeks after their birth when they are 100% relying on their mother for everything they need. 

Stage 2: Transitional (3 to 5 weeks)

Changes happen very fast to your puppy in the transitional phase. For example, their sense of hearing and smell develops, and their teeth start to come through. For many, their eyes will begin to open. Plus, they will start to interact with their siblings, wag their tails, stand, and even bark, albeit weakly.

Stage 3: Socialization  (3 to 12 weeks)

Veterinarians will tell you that the socialization phase is the most important in your puppy’s development. At this time, they become fully aware of their surroundings and start to develop relationships with you, their pet parent, other people in your household, and other pets.

During this time, they also become familiar with many daily noises heard around most households, including vacuum cleaners, televisions, cell phones, and so forth.

Ironically, most new pet parents bring their puppy home right in the middle of the socialization period. For this reason, veterinarians and dog experts recommend socializing your puppy immediately (and as much as possible) with people, other animals, and so forth.

It’s also essential that your home is puppy-proofed as it will not only save some of your possessions but might also save your puppy’s life.

Stage 4: Testing (3 to 6 months)

The testing phase comes immediately before your puppy’s adolescence phase. It’s called the testing phase because puppies will test their limits with their pet parents, other animals, and their surroundings.

Teething Is usually happening during the testing phase, and because of that, it’s imperative you don’t leave your puppy unattended for long periods. Also, ensure they have plenty of sticks and toys to chew on so they don’t chew on things they shouldn’t.

Stage 5: Adolescence (6 to 18 months)

We’ve already talked about the adolescent stage in your puppy’s development and how it can be the most difficult time for them and you. Many larger dogs will continue exhibiting adolescent behavior until as old as 3 years. Smaller dogs typically mature completely at about 18 to 20 months.

At What Age Are Puppies Most Hyper?

From about 10 weeks to 16 weeks, you’ll find that most puppies are hyperactive and more than a little crazy. Not surprisingly, that falls between the testing and adolescent phases of their development. 

During this time, their attention span will be short, and they will often ignore you, forget things you thought they had learned, and disobey you occasionally.

Final Thoughts 

How long does the puppy phase last? For most puppies, it lasts until about 18 to 24 months, at which point they are wholly set in their adult ways. That’s not to say that they won’t occasionally exhibit puppy-like behavior, just that it won’t happen nearly as often.

Again, remember that all puppies are different and thus will all mature at different rates. Typically, smaller dogs mature faster than larger dogs, but it depends on many factors, including socialization, training, how many other animals are in your home, etc.

I hope you enjoyed today’s blog about how long the puppy phase lasts. Please see my other blogs on the subject if you have more questions or would like to learn more about raising a puppy into a healthy, happy, and well-rounded adult dog. 

I pack all my blogs with interesting, informative, and actionable information you can use daily. Until next time, enjoy this time with your puppy. I can assure you that it goes by very quickly and, when it’s over, you will definitely miss it.