If you've ever read or seen Marley & Me, you know that puppies can be rambunctious. But how energetic should your puppy be at each stage of life? Here's a basic guideline to cue you into your pup's activity levels as he grows.
Birth to Ten Weeks of Age
After the initial weeks of birth, once their eyes have opened, young puppies are filled with curiosity and verve just like human babies. They want to explore everything (preferably with their mouths) and 'aren't afraid to get a little rough and tumble with their littermates. You can expect puppies at this age to spend a great deal of time running, jumping, playing, and mock-fighting with their brothers and sisters. In addition to helping them learn what it means to be a dog, these activities are also great for helping the puppy strengthen his muscles and grow up to be big and strong.
If you're finding it difficult to keep up with your little canine explorer during this period, consider enlisting the pup in an introductory training course. This will help channel some of his energy while also providing important early socialization.
Ten to Sixteen Weeks of Age
Consider this the adolescent phase: puppies in this age group are still excited to explore their surroundings, but may begin to do so at the cost of what you'd like them to be doing. In other words, "teenage" puppies may ignore your commands, wander off while you call them, or become impossible to call away from that great smell in the bushes. While this behavior can be frustrating, it's important to keep in mind that it's a normal part of your puppy's development.
Puppies in this age group may also begin to chew or become excessively mouthy. This is likely because puppies begin teething at roughly three to four months of age, which can be an uncomfortable process. Provide your dog with some puppy-safe chew toys made of durable, high-density rubber or rope. Alternately, you can freeze wet rags or chunks of peanut butter for a chilly, soothing treat dogs will love. These tricks can help discourage destructive chewing and give the puppy a healthy outlet for his teething pains.
Four to Six Months of Age
Once puppies grow past their teenage phase, they start to figure out who they are as adult dogs. Often, this means plenty of mock-fighting with their dog friends. This behavior is meant to help dogs establish group dynamics and dominance. If your puppy has not been properly socialized up until this point, he may begin to exhibit fearful behavior in new settings or with other pets. If this is the case, it's wise to begin a socialization program and sign the dog up for a training course in order to discourage fearful behavior.
Six Months to One Year of Age
Dogs at this age have generally grown to their approximate adult size. Don't let their mature appearance fool you — they're still puppies. Dogs at this age may continue to test commands and ignore boundaries, so it's important to continue training and offer plenty of active time for exercise and games.
One to Two Years of Age
Dogs at this age have mostly passed their puppyhood, although large-breed dogs are often considered puppies until at least two years of age. Dogs between one to two years act and appear mature and fully-grown. They may still love to play, but should have a solid grasp on your commands and cues. Continue socializing your dog at this point to help him remain happy and confident.
Content reviewed by a veterinarian.