Your Puppy Will Grow Up

Normally, when people remind you that your puppy will grow up, they’re talking about the fact that your dog won’t be an adorable three-month-old forever. This post is all about the in-between stage. Your dog is still mentally a puppy, but he’s close to his adult size and full of doofy energy and enthusiasm for destruction. You think he’s going to be like this forever, but he’s not. 

When rescues lament how hard it is to keep a puppy in their original home, they’re mostly talking about that awkward age where the dog stops being a cute little baby and starts chewing on everything. Adolescent dogs are a trial and they change so much and so frequently that it’s hard to remember that what’s solid behavior today may not be solid behavior tomorrow. Because of their size, people forget that they’re still growing up mentally and have a lot of hormones influencing their behavior.

This is the age when dogs are most often rehomed because people become overwhelmed by a dog who just doesn’t seem to learn. What they need is consistent training, behavior management, exercise, frequent potty breaks, and an endless supply of toys and chews. Give them those things and wait for a year or two, and you’ll have a dog who’s a pleasure to live with.

Hounds are notorious for an extended puppyhood, so I’ve had to wait nearly three years, but it happened. Like magic, they gradually stopped chewing anything they could get their mouths on, taking off after anything that moved, having accidents in the house because it was raining outside, barking at night for no reason, and otherwise making everyone around them miserable. They’ve still got things I’d like to work on, but they’re generally pretty nice to be around. Visitors like them instead of pitying me.

When I see pictures of the things they used to do, I’m surprised. I’ve already forgotten what they used to be like. It’s common for veteran dog owners to be shocked every time they get a new puppy by just how hard and overwhelming it is. It’s very common for people to tell you they thought their dog was a terrible mistake until they turned two or three and suddenly their dog was a joy.

The exact age you’re looking for varies by breed and the size of the dog, but if you’ve got an adolescent you just can’t live with, remember that this behavior will likely pass. If they’re not actually a danger to anyone, just keep chugging along with your training and know that their behavior will get better. If you know that you just can’t deal with these behaviors, adopt a 3+ year-old dog or a dog with a body conformation that limits their ability to make mischief.

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Profile photo of Laura-C


Hopes to someday train her dogs not to be douchebags.

10 thoughts on “Your Puppy Will Grow Up”

  1. My 6 year old basset STILL has “accidents” in the house because it’s raining out. And we live in Seattle. Where it rains. A lot.

    Accident is in quotes because it’s not an accident! He does it on purpose!
    If it’s anything harder than a drizzle, we need to shove him down the steps and physically block him from coming back in until he pees. Otherwise he’ll stay on the porch until the other dog is done and has let them back into the house, then he’ll run into the basement and do his doo-doo there. For a dog that is SO DUMB sometimes and has minimal problem solving skills, he’s really really good at sneaking off to go pee inside.

    1. I swear that’s a hound thing. They all seem to naturally hate weather until they’re taught otherwise. We fixed ours by treating them for just walking outside in the rain until they decided they liked it. Of course now they love rain and mud and water so they don’t consider rain a sufficient excuse to skip a walk.

      1. I did not know that. Husband is the one that grew up with bassets, and they had a covered area where they were put out when the weather was bad. Our first basset was an adult when we got her, and she had been well trained, and our second was 10 months old, and he was also fine. In fact, he just let himself out, and it’s POURING right now!

        I’ll have to keep this tidbit in mind for any future young ‘uns that join the family.

        And this just reminded me-I need to close the gate to the basement.

  2. This is great and should be required reading for puppy parents. The only thing I might add is that even altered dogs experience hormonal surges of a sort in adolescence, and that can spur wild behavior. Neutering is not an immediate cure-all.

    1. Oh yes! We waited until their bones were done growing with the hounds and the hormonal changes seemed to set them back for a couple of weeks.
      My parents didn’t neuter their dog until he was 5 and he did the same thing. It was like he was a year old again for a few weeks.
      Of course it’s important and worth it in the long run, but it’s good to know what you’ll be bringing home from the surgery.

  3. Yes, my rescue collie/terrier cross is probably about 18 months old at the moment and, while she’s generally a “good girl”, there’s times when she just isn’t and it just seems pure youthful high spirits :-) Out her with my parents’ rescue collie/springer cross who’s possibly a smidge younger and the comedy, energy and veg patch destruction are something else! We wouldn’t swap them but it’ll be nice if they calm down in a year or two

  4. Adolescents are difficult regardless of the species… while I can see the urge to rehome both human and canine ones, I don’t understand the people who do. Honestly, I’d rather see a pet rehomed than abused or abandoned because someone is overwhelmed (and a kid too). But this is very good information for new pet parents. Some people just don’t know.

  5. When our lab was in full-grown puppy stage, we thought about rehoming almost daily. He was awful! We were telling another lab owner about it, and she laughed and said, “Wait until he’s three.” I swear, his third birthday came and he was golden. He still pulls some of his old tricks (running around the backyard with stolen underwear, carrying the phone in his mouth) but it’s rare, so it’s much more amusing than it used to be. There’s just a magic moment where the pup grows up. And it’s a little sad, but it’s a lot relieving.

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