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Do Dogs Go Through Terrible Twos?



Reviewed By: Dr. Joel Robertson

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As a dog owner, you might have heard of the term “terrible twos” being used to describe the period in which young children become more challenging to manage.

But have you ever wondered if dogs go through a similar phase in their development?

In this article, we’ll explore the concept of “terrible twos” in dogs, what it entails, and how to handle it.

Do Dogs Go Through Terrible Twos?

Do Dogs Go Through Terrible Twos

Yes! Just like humans, puppies go through a period of development known as the “terrible twos” between 6 months and 12 months of age. During this time, they may become more active and excitable than usual.

To manage your puppy’s over-excitement during this time, it’s important to reward calm behaviors. Treats can also be used to associate fear with something positive. It’s important to provide plenty of safe chew toys for teething puppies, and consistent training can help them learn appropriate behaviors.

Overall, understanding the behavior changes that come with the terrible twos can help you better prepare for and manage your puppy during this time. With patience and consistency, you can help your pup grow into a well-mannered dog!

What is Terrible Twos for Dogs?

It’s a normal stage of development for dogs, and it can be difficult to manage. The Terrible Twos is a period in which puppies begin to challenge rules, boundaries, and limitations placed on them by their owners.

This usually occurs between 6 months and 12 months of age, when they are transitioning from being babies to adults.

During this time, puppies may become more vocal or destructive as they test their limits.

They may also become more independent and try to assert their dominance over other animals or people in the household.

It’s important to remain patient and consistent with your pup during this time so that they learn what behaviors are acceptable and which ones are not.

One way to help your pup through this stage is by providing them with plenty of safe chew toys so that they can satisfy their need to chew without damaging furniture or other items in the house.

You should also make sure that your pup gets plenty of exercise and mental stimulation each day so that they don’t become bored or restless. Finally, be sure to reward good behavior with treats or praise so that your pup knows what behaviors you expect from them.

The Terrible Twos can be a challenging period for both you and your pup, but with patience and consistency, it doesn’t have to be too overwhelming!

Is it Similar to Terrible Twos in Toddlers?

Yes, the adolescent period in dogs can be considered similar to the “terrible twos” in human toddlers.

Both phases involve young individuals testing boundaries, experiencing increased energy levels, and displaying challenging behaviors as they develop and learn about their environment.

However, it’s essential to remember that the specific behaviors and developmental milestones will differ between dogs and humans.

The “terrible twos” is a normal stage of development in toddlers that typically begins around age two and is characterized by frequent temper tantrums, rapid mood changes, and increased independence.

It’s a time when toddlers are learning to express their feelings and desires more independently, which can lead to frustration for both the child and parents.

What Happens During Terrible Twos in Dogs?

While dogs don’t experience the “terrible twos” in the same way as human toddlers, they do go through an adolescent period that can be somewhat similar.

During this phase, dogs may exhibit challenging behaviors and changes in temperament, such as:

  1. Testing boundaries: Adolescent dogs may test the limits of their training, becoming more stubborn or disobedient as they explore their independence.
  2. Increased energy levels: Dogs in this stage often have higher energy levels, which can lead to hyperactivity, excessive playfulness, or boisterous behavior.
  3. Destructive behavior: Due to their increased energy and curiosity, adolescent dogs may engage in destructive behaviors like chewing, digging, or shredding items around the house.
  4. Fear periods: Dogs may experience one or more fear periods during adolescence, where they become suddenly nervous or fearful of things they were previously comfortable with.
  5. Hormonal changes: If a dog is not spayed or neutered, hormonal changes during adolescence can result in increased aggression, marking, or mounting behaviors.
  6. Social challenges: Adolescent dogs are still learning proper social skills and may display inappropriate behaviors towards other dogs or people, such as excessive barking, jumping, or nipping.

When Does Terrible Twos Begin and End in Dogs?

In dogs, the “terrible twos” is more accurately referred to as the adolescent period. This phase usually begins around six months of age but can vary depending on the breed and size of the dog. Smaller breeds may enter adolescence earlier, while larger breeds might take longer to reach this stage.

The end of the adolescent period also varies among breeds and individual dogs. Generally, dogs are considered fully mature between one and two years old, with smaller breeds maturing faster than larger ones. Some giant breeds may not be fully mature until they are closer to three years old.

During the adolescent period, it’s essential to maintain consistent training, provide ample exercise and mental stimulation, and practice patience as your dog navigates this challenging developmental phase. With time and proper guidance, most dogs will grow out of the troublesome behaviors associated with adolescence.

What Are the Bad Behaviors You Can Expect from Puppies?

Puppies are adorable, but they can also exhibit a range of challenging behaviors as they grow and learn about their environment. Some common bad behaviors you might encounter with puppies include:

  1. Nipping and biting: Puppies explore the world with their mouths and may nip or bite during play or when seeking attention. This behavior should be addressed early to prevent it from becoming a habit.
  2. Chewing: Puppies love to chew on various objects, which can lead to the destruction of household items or potential ingestion of harmful substances.
  3. House soiling: Young puppies have limited bladder and bowel control and may have accidents in the house before they are fully house-trained.
  4. Excessive barking or whining: Puppies may vocalize excessively due to excitement, fear, boredom, or separation anxiety.
  5. Jumping up: Excited puppies may jump up on people to greet them or seek attention, which can become a problem if not corrected early.
  6. Digging: Some puppies may develop a habit of digging, either indoors (in potted plants or carpets) or outdoors in the yard.
  7. Leash pulling: Puppies often need time and training to learn proper leash manners and may pull or resist walking on a leash initially.
  8. Resource guarding: Puppies may guard their food, toys, or other valuable items, displaying aggression or possessiveness.
  9. Not coming when called: Puppies may be easily distracted and not respond to their name or recall commands consistently.

Do Puppies Chew More During Terrible Twos?

Chewing can be a common issue during this period as they continue to explore their environment and may have increased energy levels.

Adolescent dogs may also chew more due to teething if they still have some baby teeth that need to fall out or if they are experiencing discomfort from the growth of adult teeth.

Additionally, chewing can be a stress-relieving activity for dogs, so they might resort to it during this time if they’re feeling anxious or frustrated.

Do Older Dogs Go Through Terrible Twos?

Older dogs do not go through the “terrible twos” like human toddlers or the adolescent phase that puppies experience.

However, older dogs can still exhibit challenging behaviors due to various factors, such as changes in their environment, health issues, or cognitive decline.

Some common issues that may arise in older dogs include:

  1. Anxiety or stress: Changes in the household, loss of a family member or pet, or new family members can cause anxiety or stress in older dogs, leading to behavioral changes.
  2. Health problems: Age-related health issues like arthritis, dental pain, or vision and hearing loss can cause discomfort and lead to changes in behavior.
  3. Cognitive decline: Older dogs may experience cognitive dysfunction or dementia, which can result in disorientation, confusion, increased vocalization, or changes in sleep patterns.
  4. Incontinence: Aging dogs may have less control over their bladder and bowels, leading to accidents in the house.
  5. Reduced energy levels: Older dogs may become less active and less interested in play or exercise as they age.

What Are the Signs That Your Older Dog Is Going Through a Rebellious Stage?

Older dogs typically do not go through a “rebellious stage” like puppies and adolescent dogs. However, they may exhibit changes in behavior due to various factors such as health issues, cognitive decline, or changes in their environment.

If you notice any of the following signs in your older dog, it’s essential to address the underlying cause rather than assuming it’s a rebellious phase:

  1. Increased anxiety, fear, or aggression: Changes in your dog’s temperament could be due to pain, discomfort, or cognitive decline.
  2. Changes in eating or drinking habits: A sudden change in appetite or water intake might indicate an underlying health issue that needs attention.
  3. House soiling or incontinence: Older dogs may struggle with bladder and bowel control, leading to accidents in the house.
  4. Disorientation or confusion: Cognitive dysfunction or dementia can cause older dogs to become disoriented or confused, affecting their behavior.
  5. Reduced energy levels or lethargy: If your older dog becomes less active or appears fatigued, it could be a sign of a health issue or age-related decline.
  6. Resistance to previously learned commands: Cognitive decline, hearing loss, or discomfort might cause older dogs to stop responding to commands they once knew.

How Can You Deal with Hyper Dogs During Terrible Twos?

Dealing with hyper dogs during their adolescent phase can be challenging, but with patience, consistency, and proper management, you can help your dog navigate this period. Here are some tips to deal with a hyper dog during their “terrible twos”:

  1. Provide structured exercise: Ensure your dog has regular physical activity, including walks, playtime, and off-leash running if possible. Exercise helps release excess energy and promotes relaxation.
  2. Mental stimulation: Engage your dog’s mind with puzzle toys, treat-dispensing toys, or training sessions to keep them mentally stimulated and prevent boredom.
  3. Consistent training: Reinforce obedience and manners through consistent, positive reinforcement-based training. Consider enrolling in a group training class or working with a professional dog trainer for additional support.
  4. Socialization: Expose your dog to various environments, people, and other animals to build their confidence and adaptability. Regular socialization helps prevent fear-based behaviors and aggression.
  5. Establish routines: Create a daily routine for feeding, exercise, and sleep to provide structure and predictability for your dog.
  6. Redirect hyper behavior: When your dog exhibits hyper behavior, redirect them to an appropriate activity such as playing with a toy or practicing obedience commands.
  7. Teach impulse control: Train your dog to wait for permission before engaging in activities like eating, going through doorways, or jumping on furniture. This helps develop self-control and reduces impulsiveness.
  8. Use calming aids: If necessary, consider using calming aids like pheromone diffusers, calming supplements, or anxiety wraps to help your dog feel more relaxed.
  9. Be patient and persistent: Remember that adolescence is a temporary phase, and with time, consistency, and appropriate guidance, most dogs will grow out of their hyper behavior.

Are There Any Supplements That Can Help with Hyperactive Dogs?

Yes, there are various supplements that can help with hyperactive dogs. Some of the most common supplements include omega-3 fatty acids, L-tryptophan, 5-HTP, and probiotics.

Omega-3 fatty acids help to reduce stress and anxiety in dogs and also boost their immune system. L-tryptophan helps to increase serotonin in the brain which can help to calm an overactive dog.

5-HTP helps to regulate moods while probiotics help to improve gut health which in turn helps to reduce anxiety and restlessness in your pet.

What Happens if a Puppy is Not Socialized During Terrible Twos?

If a puppy is not socialized during the Terrible Twos, it may become fearful or aggressive towards people and other animals.

This can lead to problems such as difficulty interacting with others, anxiety issues, and even aggression when meeting new people or animals.

Puppies that are not properly socialized may also experience increased stress levels due to fear of the unknown, resulting in high-stress behaviors like barking or biting.

Additionally, puppies that are not socialized during this important period can develop behavioral issues such as separation anxiety, hyperactivity, and destructive chewing.

All of these behaviors can make a life for both pet parents and pup quite difficult and frustrating.

What Are the Best Ways to Socialize a Puppy During Terrible Twos?

Here are some of the best ways to socialize your puppy during their adolescent phase:

  1. Puppy classes: Enroll your puppy in a group training class that focuses on socialization and basic obedience. This will allow them to interact with other puppies and people in a controlled environment.
  2. Playdates: Arrange playdates with other dogs, preferably ones who are friendly, well-behaved, and have up-to-date vaccinations. This will give your puppy the opportunity to learn appropriate dog-to-dog interactions.
  3. Public outings: Take your puppy to various public places like parks, outdoor cafes, and pet-friendly stores to expose them to different environments, sights, sounds, and smells.
  4. Meet new people: Introduce your puppy to a diverse range of people, including children, the elderly, and people with different appearances and abilities. This helps your puppy become comfortable around various individuals.
  5. Positive reinforcement: Use treats, praise, and toys to reward your puppy for calm and appropriate behavior during socialization experiences.
  6. Gradual exposure: Introduce new experiences gradually and at your puppy’s own pace. Avoid overwhelming them or forcing them into situations where they are fearful or uncomfortable.
  7. Leash manners: Teach your puppy to walk nicely on a leash, as this will make it easier to take them to public places for socialization.
  8. Car rides: Get your puppy used to riding in a car by taking them on short trips, gradually increasing the duration as they become more comfortable.
  9. Vet visits: Make regular visits to the veterinarian for check-ups and vaccinations, and use these opportunities to practice socialization in a controlled environment.
  10. Consistency: Socialization should be an ongoing process throughout your puppy’s life, so continue exposing them to new experiences even after the adolescent phase.

Is It Safe to Take Your Dog to Doggy Daycare During Terrible Twos?

Yes, it is generally safe to take your dog to doggy daycare during their adolescent phase, as long as the daycare is well-managed, clean, and staffed with experienced professionals. Doggy daycare can provide several benefits for dogs in this stage of life, such as:

  1. Socialization: Daycare offers opportunities for your dog to interact with other dogs in a supervised environment, helping them develop social skills and learn appropriate behaviors.
  2. Exercise: Daycare provides ample physical activity to help burn off excess energy, which can help reduce hyperactivity and destructive behaviors at home.
  3. Mental stimulation: The various activities and interactions at daycare can keep your dog mentally engaged and prevent boredom.
  4. Routine: A structured routine at daycare can help provide consistency and stability during the adolescent phase.
  5. Training reinforcement: Some daycares also provide training services, which can be beneficial in reinforcing obedience and manners during this challenging period.


Q: Do dogs go through a terrible twos stage

A: Yes, they do. Just like human toddlers, puppies also go through a rebellious stage which is also known as the terrible twos stage. During this stage, puppies often misbehave and exhibit bad behavior.

Q: At what age do dogs go through the terrible twos stage?

A: The terrible twos stage usually starts when the puppy is around 5 or 6 months of age and lasts until they are around 7 months old.

Q: Do all dogs go through the terrible twos stage?

A: No, not all dogs have a terrible twos stage. It depends upon the breed of the dog and upon the owner how they train their dog in their puppyhood.

Q: Why do dogs go through a terrible twos stage?

A: Dogs get rebellious because they are learning about their surroundings and their place within the pack. This is part of their social maturity process. They also have a lot of energy and curiosity that needs to be controlled.

Q: What are the signs that a dog is going through a terrible twos stage?

A: Dogs often exhibit bad behavior during the terrible twos stage. This behavior can include biting, chewing, barking excessively, and not following commands.

Q: How long does the terrible twos stage last in dogs?

A: The terrible twos stage typically lasts until the puppy gets older and gains more impulse control, which is around 6-7 months of age. However, certain breeds may experience it longer or shorter depending upon the breed.

Q: How can I stop my dog from misbehaving during the terrible twos stage?

A: The key to dealing with bad behavior is to remove your dog from the situation that is causing the bad behavior. For example, remove your dog from the room or another dog if they are misbehaving. Ask them to sit, and offer praise and a treat for their good behavior. Avoid punishing them or using fear tactics as it can lead to aggressive behavior.

Q: What can happen if I don’t train my dog during their terrible twos stage?

A: If you don’t train your dog during their terrible twos stage, they may become unruly, and their bad behavior can lead to aggressive behavior. It is always best to address any behavior problems early on.

To help ensure that your puppy grows into an obedient and well-mannered adult dog, it is important to start training them early. Make sure you have a consistent routine for potty breaks, feeding times, and playtime. Reward good behavior with treats and positive reinforcement when they obey commands or do the right thing.

Q: Is it normal for dogs to fear strangers during the terrible twos stage?

A: Yes, it is normal for dogs to exhibit fear toward strangers during the terrible twos stage. They are still learning about their surroundings and may not fully understand who is safe and who is not.

Q: Can I punish my dog during the terrible twos stage?

A: No, it is not advisable to punish your dog during the terrible twos stage. Punishing your dog can lead to fear and anxiety, which will only worsen their behavior. Instead, focus on positive reinforcement and training techniques.

In Conclusion

In conclusion, while the concept of “terrible twos” is not the same for dogs as it is for young children, many dogs go through a phase of rebellious behavior when they’re around five to seven months of age.

By understanding this phase, providing proper training and socialization, and using positive reinforcement, you can help your dog get through the “terrible twos” and become a well-adjusted and obedient member of your family.

Please take the time and leave a comment below if this article helped you, or you have any additional questions.

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