How to train teenager stage dogs

How to train teenager stage dogs

At around six months of age, you’ll discover that your puppy has grown into a… teenager! This is a period that many owners don’t anticipate as they often expect their dog will just slip seamlessly from being a puppy into being an adult, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. There is a reason why the most common age for dogs being given to rescue centres to be rehomed is between 6-18 months old, and this is because canine adolescence can be a tricky time. With a little knowledge, preparation and a fair bit of patience however, you will find that you can deal with all the issues that living with a teenage dog can bring, and you can both sail through it and out the other side with your relationship and your sanity intact.

When does a puppy become a teenager?

Canine adolescence starts at different times for different breeds and can last for varying lengths of time. Smaller breeds tend to hit their teenage phase earlier than larger breeds who develop more slowly. A small breed dog will often be mature by around a year old, whereas a giant breed can be two years plus before their adolescence is behind them.

What happens during puppy adolescence?

How to train teenager stage dogs

During this period there are several developmental processes at work. Being aware of what they are and the effects they are likely to have on your puppy’s behaviour will mean you can be prepared to deal with them.

This in turn will shorten the time they will have an impact on both your lives.

Puppy adolescence is a time when your pup will be starting to become more independent. At this age, they are beginning to look at the world as adult rather than as an infant and so rather than relying on you for security; they are more likely to go ‘self-employed’. This can often mean that their instinct is to listen to you less, wander further from you when on walks, and be less likely to respond to you when you call (no matter how good their recall was before). Some will even take flight or actively avoid you when you call them.

How to deal with puppy adolescence?

The important thing is to stay calm, don’t punish your dog in any way as this will just make them even less likely to want to come to you. Instead go back to basics with your training cues and include lots of rewards. With recall, don’t let your dog get into the habit of not coming back. This means using a long-line for a few weeks, so your dog still gets freedom to run, sniff and explore but isn’t able to ignore you or take off into the distance. By doing this, you will shorten this flight period and get your training back on track relatively quickly.

Why is my teenage puppy suddenly scared?

Dogs also have a second fear period that happens somewhere between 6-18 months of age. Sometimes this just happens once but in other dogs it can happen several times which may coincide with growth spurts or hormone surges. This period is characterised by your puppy seeming to be reactive or scared of things that haven’t bothered them in the past; people, dogs, unfamiliar objects or places etc. Managing this period properly is vitally important as this seems to be the time when single-event learning is the most likely to occur. In other words a bad experience at this time can have a lasting effect on your dog’s behaviour even if all their previous interactions have been positive.

How puppy socialisation helps during teenage years

Watch your puppy closely and notice if they seem to be reacting differently to things they normally take in their stride. Do not think they are being difficult, tell them off or punish them for these behaviours otherwise you will exacerbate their fear. Instead remember your initial socialisation and habituation techniques and work to make all encounters positive. Don’t force your dog to ‘face their fears’ but instead keep a comfortable distance where they do not feel they have to react or be worried, let them approach, retreat and explore in their own time, and reward them with treats to keep all interactions positive.

Avoid negative encounters or potentially worrying situations as far as is possible in this time as a bad experience now could colour the way your puppy looks at the world and affect his behaviour as an adult. While continued socialisation is vital, keep it to dogs, people and places you know, as this is the period where it is better to have little experience than a bad experience. So, get out and about, keep encouraging your puppy to be social but work hard to keep all these experiences and encounters positive and fun.

Last year saw a huge increase in families and individuals buying and adopting puppies as they sought additional companionship during the lockdown period. Fast forward to 2021 and many of those puppies are now approaching their first birthdays as well as adolescence.

What age is adolescence in dogs?

Adolescence marks the change from being a juvenile to becoming an adult. In dogs, it can start anytime between six and 12 months and can end between 18 and 24 months. During this time, there are dramatic hormonal changes and a reorganisation of the brain.

Do dogs go through a rebellious stage?

These hormonal changes can make adolescent dogs appear less obedient, however, what is really happening is that they’re increasingly motivated to explore, interact and run and they also have a greater need to interact with the environment around them and the people in it.

Just like human teenagers, adolescent dogs have the energy and motivation to do more. More exploration, more play, more interaction with their friends (humans and not humans!) but they lack the necessary knowledge and experience to think about and manage their actions and reactions.

Because teenage dogs are so much more energetic and interactive they can easily find themselves in conflict when they are asked to stop doing something, or simply to calm down, even in situations when they previously were ‘obedient’ and responded immediately. Sadly this kind of change is often interpreted by owners as the dog being stubborn or trying to assert their dominance rather than understanding that their dog is finding it difficult to control their impulsivity.

Adolescence in dogs can cause frustration

Some dogs, depending on their temperament (or personality), may become frustrated when they cannot get what they want and because this is a negative emotion it can trigger negatively motivated behaviours. This includes excessive barking, excessive behaviours like jumping up, scratching, nipping, biting the lead and even aggression.

It’s therefore unsurprising that many owners report big changes in their dogs’ behaviour. Sadly, adolescence is a time when some puppies may find themselves being rehomed. However, the good news is that this period of problematic behaviour does pass and we have pulled together some top tips to help you through those teenage years.

Dealing with adolescence behaviour in dogs: Four ways to help you and your pup

Rather than focussing on how to control an adolescent dog, we need to think about how we can satisfy their physical and behavioural needs.

Research suggests that the learning ability of adolescent dogs is better than that of adults or puppies and so the best thing to do is to focus some of their energy towards structured play and exercise sessions, for example, searching games, scent puzzles and long walks in quiet areas.

We also need to think about how we can prevent situations during which our dog may be more excitable or frustrated. We can do this by providing some activities before the event or giving them something to do that can help them to cope with frustration.

1. Avoid frustration at dinner time

Dogs in general and young dogs, in particular, get frustrated when people eat. Because they also want the food and cannot participate, they may jump, bark and scratch. You can minimise frustration and its behavioural consequences by feeding your pet before you eat and then giving them something to chew or perhaps a dog puzzle while you eat.

2. Keep your pup stimulated

Not being able to get people’s attention can also be frustrating but predictability is the best way to avoid frustration. Try increasing the variety of interactive games in your do’s routine, such as playing with a ball or a frisbee, or even simply hiding something that your dog must find etc.

Remember to give cues about when the play session starts and when it finishes. For example, you can tell the dog ‘playtime’ or show a toy and when you want to finish. Just say ‘finish’ and throw the toy in the opposite direction or remove the toy and give the dog something to occupy himself. This is useful to minimise the frustration at the end of a pleasant activity. You can also scatter some treats or give your dog something nice to chew.

3. Don’t tell you dog off

If your dog was used to playing with other dogs but started to become too boisterous or even aggressive, telling him off is only making the problem worse. Instead, try to distract your dog and remove them from the situation using a happy voice rather than a reprimand.

If your dog has dog friends, you can continue to socialise them with the dogs they know and minimise the exposure to other dogs for a while. Avoiding repeated negative experiences in the presence of other dogs will help stop the problem from getting worse.

4. Keep your dog active

Adolescent dogs are energetic! Longer walks in quiet areas, lots of exploration and simply using their nose are a few of the most rewarding activities for dogs.

Some adolescent dogs seem to become more fearful and anxious and this can be the reason why they do not follow their owners’ requests or even why they start to show behaviours like destructiveness, house soiling or excessive vocalisations.

It’s really important that they’re not punished for their ‘bad manners’. Telling dogs off, shouting or using more physical methods can make dogs even more scared and worried and the behaviours can worsen. In these types of situations, professional help needs to be sought.

What if nothing is helping?

If nothing you’re doing seems to help, then it’s important to seek further advice. Sometimes behaviours can be caused by an underlying medical or health issue and so it’s important to get your pet checked by a vet first to rule this out. They can then refer you to a behaviour expert if necessary.

Given the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, you’ll need to contact your vet by phone first and follow their guidance as to whether it’s necessary to go to the practice. If you can’t visit the practice then you’ll still be able to discuss your pet’s behaviour over the phone and the behaviour expert will carry out a remote consultation – don’t worry, this is something they’re used to doing. It’s important to find a suitably qualified behaviourist. Visit the Animal Behaviour and Training Council to find a list of qualified clinical animal behaviourists.

To sum up, if your adolescent dog seems to have lost his ‘manners’ – think about how to provide more positive activities, avoid exposing them to situations that may excite or frustrate them, avoid any kind of punishment and be patient. This phase will pass!

The most challenging time of raising a puppy is the adolescent period. Dogs become “teenagers” and seem to forget everything they have ever been taught. This period is individual to each dog, but it may begin when he’s about eight months old and continue until he’s two years old.

Adolescence does not begin and end overnight. However, some noticeable changes include becoming larger and stronger, as well as exhibiting “stubborn” behavior and a desire to begin exploring outside a previous comfort zone.

One common mistake is giving your puppy too much freedom too soon. Young puppies have an innate desire to be near you, and this gives owners a false sense of security. As your puppy gets older and more confident, he will likely no longer stay close by, and it may feel like any prior training has disappeared!

There are numerous strategies for dealing with dog adolescence, both before it starts and during this phase.

Train Your Puppy

While your puppy is still young, start training! Puppies are never too young to learn the basics of sit, down, stay, come, etc. You need to be consistent with this training throughout your dog’s life, but especially while he is very young, so he gains a good understanding of what you are asking.

Positive reinforcement is essential, so make sure you reward your pup with appropriate treats when he succeeds. Make sure to break up the treats into easy, chewable bites.

Self-Control

Start teaching your puppy to exercise self-control. Teaching “leave it” and “drop it” are great ways for dogs to learn self-control, and this transfers into other areas of your dog’s life.

Introduce Puppy to a Crate

Another important thing to remember is crate training. Using a crate gives your puppy a safe place to relax, and even as he gets older and the crate isn’t needed to maintain house-training, it’s still a great idea to keep it around to use when you need to prevent your growing puppy from getting into trouble.

Practice Obedience

As your puppy gets older, keep in mind that you should continue to practice the basic obedience skills so that your puppy doesn’t forget them! You should practice these behaviors several times a week and reward your dog for his or her efforts. Some dogs find food rewarding, while other dogs find toys and playing to be more motivating. Use whatever your dog likes best to reward him or her for making good choices, especially if he makes a good choice without being prompted. Maybe your puppy sits to ask for attention — don’t take that for granted! Reward your puppy for making good decisions like this, and he will continue to make those good decisions.

Puppy Chewing and Teething

Keep those puppy-safe chew toys handy during adolescence. You may think that teething ended when the adult teeth came in at around 6 months. But there is a secondary chewing phase between 8-to-10 months that occurs as the adult teeth settle in the jaw. Continue to puppy-proof your house, keep an eye on your adolescent, and keep enticing chew toys in easy reach of him.

Mental and Physical Exercise

Mental stimulation is important for dogs and puppies of any age, but it’s particularly important for adolescent dogs with a lot of energy. Help keep your teen dog from getting into trouble by providing plenty of mental stimulation. Activities like fetch, walks, games, obedience and trick training, puzzle toys, food-dispensing toys, and group classes are great ways to keep your dog’s mind active. A tired dog is a good dog, but a mentally tired dog is a great dog!

Also consider a food that helps your pup mentally and physically, like one of the four distinct nutritional platforms from Purina® Pro Plan®. With real meat as the first ingredient and no added artificial colors or flavors, this food is bound to help your dog succeed.

Although this is the most challenging time when raising a puppy, it is also the most rewarding. By training early and continuing to train, you’ll find the adolescent period is easier to navigate, and you’ll help the puppy become a well-adjusted, polite adult dog.

How to train teenager stage dogs

Any parent of teenagers will tell you that raising kids during their adolescent phase is a trying task, what with the know-it-all attitude, the uncanny ability to ignore anything that resembles a request, and the sudden urge to be anywhere but with family. But even if you’ve never raised a human, you may have encountered these traits—in the canine members of your household.

If your dog is suddenly ignoring the “sit” or “come” commands they mastered in puppyhood, you’re not alone. New research from a team of UK universities has shown that dogs do go through a rebellious adolescent phase, and they can be just as obstinate as human teens as they navigate fluctuating hormones and push for a bit of independence.

Dogs’ awkward adolescence

Researchers observed the behavior of 70 dogs being trained as guide animals at five months old and then again at eight months old. The dogs included German shepherds, golden retrievers, Labrador retrievers, and mixes of these breeds. The older dogs were found to be twice as likely to ignore sit commands when given by their caregivers, which led researchers to conclude it wasn’t that the dogs didn’t know how to sit—it was that they were stubbornly choosing not to. The kicker: the dogs still obeyed a stranger giving the same command.

Sound familiar? “We have been able to show for the first time that dogs display increased conflict behavior, characterized by a reduction in obedience, during puberty,” wrote zoologist Dr. Naomi Harvey, who contributed to the research. “Importantly, this reduced obedience is seen only in how the dog behaves towards their caregiver.” The researchers also collected data from 285 guide dog owners, which revealed similar results and found that both younger and older dogs seem to be more trainable than teenage dogs.

“The hormonal fluctuations and the remodeling of the brain to become an adult brain cause a lot of issues,” Harvey told the BBC. And, sadly, the resulting behavior can have repercussions for the dog, whose owner may not realize that their pets may just be going through a difficult phase—this age group is the most likely to end up in shelters in the U.S.

“Dogs absolutely do go through an adolescent phase, and it can be really helpful for owners to understand their dog’s behavior as they transform from a puppy into an adult,” says Amanda Gagnon, an anthrozoologist, dog training and behavior consultant, and founder and head trainer at Amanda Gagnon Dog Training in New York. “We were all teenagers once—it’s a time when you want to explore your boundaries, become more independent, and blow off your parents. And there are definitely some similar behaviors that can come out in our dogs.”

How to train teenager stage dogs

According to Gagnon, dog puberty starts earlier than many dog owners realize—it can begin as early as five months of age, and their adolescent behaviors could drag on until they’re at least a-year-and-a-half (or longer). Among the indicators that your dog is entering adolescence: increased energy levels, heightened interest and curiosity about their surroundings, and destructive behaviors like chewing or barking to get what they want. “Not listening to you is probably the biggest clue,” she adds. “It’s not that your dog has forgotten their commands…it’s just that they now have competing interests.”

Living with a teen dog

Anthony De Marinis, a dog behavior consultant, animal trainer, and owner of De Marinis Dog Training and Behavior, notes that your dog’s breed will also play a role in just how long your dog’s teenage years last. Some dogs could seem a bit “moody” up until they’re three years old, he says. So what should pet owners do about all of this?

An important step is for owners to simply be aware that this is a normal phase and not a life-long regression, or a sign of a “bad dog.” The other big factor is, of course, training–early, and consistently. “Training is the most important thing you can do for your dog—and it needs to happen in early puppyhood, ideally around eight weeks. It’s during that stage that your dog is in their most impressionable phase of life,” De Marinis says. The good news is that if pet owners are consistent and diligent about training and properly socialize their dog, it won’t be as difficult to get them on track when they’re going through their teenage years. “When things do start to go south, that’s when pet owners can go back into their toolbox and work on basic training and reinforce good behavior,” he says.

Gagnon says owners should look for ways to minimize their dog’s desire to engage in destructive behaviors whenever possible. “That means increasing the amount of physical and mental stimulation your dog receives, such as through plenty of exercise, preferably earlier in the day,” she says. Another way to keep your dog stimulated (and out of trouble) is through puzzle toys, which can be stuffed with treats, or even their regular food.

“Above all, just keep in mind that your dog hasn’t forgotten everything they’ve learned; they just may not be as focused right now,” Gagnon says. “Think of it like trying to teach something to a second or third grader. Keep up with consistent training sessions with varying levels of distraction—and give your dog some time and patience.”

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How to train teenager stage dogs

How to train teenager stage dogs

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What You Need to Know About Dogs and Carsickness

There’s nothing quite like hitting the road with your canine companion riding along, excitedly.

It’s common knowledge that puppies are hard work, and no doubt you will have prepared yourself well for the challenging first few months of living with your new friend. There’s no denying that all puppies are cute and loads of fun, but they also bring quite a bit of mess, general chaos and quite a few sleepless nights and this is something we often expect and embrace as we know it’s not going to last for ever.

Once you and your puppy have mastered toilet training, a good recall, sleeping through the night and so on, you might dare to believe you’ve cracked it… but then your adorable, well behaved puppy suddenly hits adolescence. In other words, your puppy is now a ‘teenager’. Just like their human equivalents, dog teenagers vary hugely – some may temporarily go off the rails, some may become a little more anxious than usual and some may remain steady and easy going throughout.

As with all things, it’s best to be well prepared and expect a few challenges along the way – it won’t last for ever and more than anything, your young dog will need your patience and support during this potentially tricky developmental phase.

When does dog adolescence start and how long does it last?

Puppies usually become ‘teenagers’ at around five to six months of age and, depending on individual and breed, adolescence usually finishes around 18 months to two years.

What should I expect from my teenage puppy?

The most common reported issues around this time are general exuberant and boisterous behaviour, not coming back when called and failing to respond to training that has previously been taught.

There’s a lot going on in the teenage dog’s mind and body at this time and just like a human teenager, adolescent dogs can be frustrating and on occasion difficult to live with!

Here’s some advice on some of the common problems you might face and how to get through them:

Not coming back when called

Although it might seem that your dog is refusing to return to you when you call them, the truth is that they have a lot going on in their brains and this is overriding any previous training.

Free roaming dogs would naturally become more daring and exploratory during this time, and our pet dogs are subject to the same internal influences.

If your dog is persistently not returning to you when called, it’s wise to attach a long line to their harness when out and about – the length will give your dog the freedom to explore, but will prevent them from running off entirely. Having a bit of control at this time is important, as a dog that doesn’t come back when called is not safe. Not only might they annoy or worry other dogs, people or other animals, but they might run into a road or chase a deer for miles.

Continue to work on your dog’s recall, but go back to teaching this in an environment where there are fewer distractions – this is likely to only be a temporary setback and if you invest lots of time in retraining, you’ll hopefully be able to let your dog enjoy total freedom once again. For recall tips, watch our video.

Behaviour around other dogs

Even if you have done a great job socialising your puppy well with other dogs, during adolescence many dogs will to show an increased interest in interacting with and playing with other dogs on walks, which is perfectly natural.

Meeting, greeting and playing respectfully with other dogs is absolutely fine if all the interactions remain polite and friendly, but interrupt if things get too boisterous and make sure you can always call your dog away from other dogs if necessary. Your dog is young and impressionable and you’ll want to avoid them developing a preference for seeking out and playing with other dogs on their walks, as it may make it harder for you to influence their behaviour.

It’s always best to channel your dog’s playful instincts into playing with you and toys – this way you are the most interesting thing down the park, not other dogs! As with recall, increase your dog’s desire to play and interact with you where there are fewer distractions, so best to begin at home first.

Fearful behaviour

Young dogs typically experience another ‘fear period’ around adolescence (they had their first one when a very young puppy). It may come as a big surprise when your seemingly confident and friendly young dog suddenly gets scared about things they previously didn’t – but try not to worry too much as usually it’s a passing phase and often all they need is your understanding and support.

Revisit your socialisation information paying particular attention to the areas that might be concerning your dog – make sure you expose them to things they are worried about gradually and at a pace they are comfortable with.

Avoid potentially stressful events at this time, such as a stay in kennels, a visit to a busy country show or neutering (unless an emergency of course) and try to keep things consistent, predictable and safe for your dog. Although it can be a worry seeing your dog a bit more jittery than usual, try to be calm and relaxed when around your dog – they are really perceptive and you’ll not want to give them more reason to be concerned.

Chewing

Although your dog is likely to have his adult teeth by now, they may be some discomfort as they settle into their jaw – expect a need to chew harder at this time and make sure you provide plenty of opportunity for them to carry out this important behaviour. The good news is that chewing is calming for most dogs, so a win-win!

Training

As persistent as your dog’s ‘bad habits’ appear to be, be persistent and consistent with your training and eventually it will pay off!

When dogs reach adolescence, you may notice changes in their behaviour. This could be things like struggling with their training or not listening to you anymore.

These adolescent behaviours are caused as your dog reaches sexual and social maturity, and what they like and dislike can change dramatically. Although this is a natural part of your dog growing up, it can be upsetting and confusing for owners who find their perfect pup has turned into a problematic pooch almost overnight.

So if you’re seeing your pup’s behaviour change as they grow, it could be that they’ve reached adolescence and that’s why they’re acting like a troublesome teen.

When will my dog reach adolescence?

Dogs reach adolescence at around 8-12 months. This can vary depending on your dog’s breed and size, with larger breeds tending to mature slower than smaller breeds. Most dogs don’t reach full social maturity until they are around three years old, so it’s important to be patient with them through this process. Continue their training with regular practice to ensure they become a happy, well-adjusted adult.

How could my adolescent dog’s behaviour change?

  • Obedience. When dogs reach adolescence or puberty, studies show they are less likely to follow commands given by their owners. It can seem as if they just can’t hear you. Interestingly (and sometimes frustratingly) loss of obedience seems to only apply to dogs’ owners, not to other people. Again, much like human teenagers ignoring their parents! But it is important that we don’t punish our dogs for this. Hard as it may be, as long as you are patient and persevere with reward-based training, they will come out of this phase as a well-behaved dog.
  • Humping. During puberty, hormones such as testosterone start to increase and can change your dog’s behaviour. Male dogs will often start humping more, urine marking and roaming. Female dogs that are in season can also start humping due to hormones.
  • Anxiety or nervousness. Female dogs can be especially impacted during their seasons. These can cause behaviour changes, such as anxiety or nervousness, being overly friendly with other dogs, nesting and peeing more than usual.
  • Territorial behaviour. Another change seen in both males and female dogs is becoming more protective and territorial. For example, guarding things or places around the home or reacting and barking at things that didn’t use to bother them.
  • Social behaviour. Social maturity also plays a part in your dog’s behaviour at this age. Some forms of aggression between dogs only appear as they mature. Your dog may become less social and enjoy the company of other dogs less as they grow up.

What can I do to help my adolescent dog?

Neutering may help with some of these problems (and will stop a female’s problems if they are due to her seasons). But lots of different factors can also be involved in creating these behaviours, so it’s important not to see neutering as the answer to all problems. Whether your dog is neutered or not, you will need to continue with their positive training and get help if their behaviours are becoming a serious problem. Again, punishing them will have a negative effect on their mental wellbeing and risks making problems worse. Instead, reward good behaviours and avoid conflict to help them through any problems.

If your dog has become more nervous or doesn’t enjoy spending time with others during their adolescence, it’s important not to force them to play or interact. Not all dogs love to spend time with other dogs, so it may be your dog is more of a people pooch than a doggy fan. They might prefer spending their time completely on their own, or only want to spend time with a few people they know well. Giving them time and space will help them make up their own minds about what company they enjoy and figure out how to interact with other dogs (and people) now they’re becoming an adult.

Remember if any of these issues are ongoing or are causing serious problems, speak to your vet and an accredited behaviourist. Many behaviour problems get worse over time so getting help early is key. If you’re not sure whether they have a problem or if it’s because they’ve reached adolescence, it’s safest to get your dog checked so you can be sure you’re doing everything you can to help them.

Between their know-it-all attitude, sudden bouts of amnesia when it comes to being asked to do something, and a longing to be as far away from family as possible, teenagers can be hard to handle. But, even if you’ve never been a parent to a human teenager, you may have experienced similar traits in your adolescent dog.

If your dog has suddenly started ignoring commands and refuses to “come” or “sit”, it may be an age-related phase. A new study from a collection of UK universities has found that dogs do experience a rebellious phase, akin to moody adolescence in humans. As they navigate their fluctuating hormones, they can push for some extra independence and become just as obstinate as their human teenage counterparts.

Awkward adolescence in dogs

In this latest research, the behaviors of 70 dogs were observed as they were trained to become guide dogs – once at five months old, then again when they reached 8 months. There were a variety of breeds, including Labrador retrievers, Golden retrievers , German shepherds and a mixture of these breeds. The older dogs were reportedly twice as likely to blatantly ignore sit commands given by their caregivers, leading researchers to conclude that, despite knowing the command, they were stubborning opting not to. What is even more interesting is that the same dogs did obey the command when given by a stranger.

Contributor to the research, zoologist Dr. Naomi Harvey , said, “We have been able to show for the first time that dogs display increased conflict behavior, characterized by a reduction in obedience, during puberty.

“Importantly, this reduced obedience is seen only in how the dog behaves towards their caregiver.” Data was also collected from 285 guide dog owners who reported similar results and also found that both younger and older dogs were more open to being trained than teenage dogs.

Harvey explained to the BBC, “The hormonal fluctuations and the remodeling of the brain to become an adult brain cause a lot of issues.” Sadly, when misunderstood, the resulting behaviors of such big changes can lead to repercussions for the teenage dog. Owners who don’t understand that their difficult pets may be going through a normal phase can be left despairing over what has changed. Teenage dogs fall into the most likely age group to be handed in to shelters.

Puberty in dogs begins earlier than most would think, starting at as early as five months old and potentially lasting until they are 18 months old or more. Other signs of doggy adolescence are heightened curiosity and interest in their surroundings, increased levels of energy and destructive behaviors, such as demanding barking or chewing the furniture.

Dan Morris from the pet website PetNPat has a 6 month old Labrador/German Shepherd cross puppy, and is just starting to experience these things. His dog Bingo, seen here eating chicken , was extremely easy to control – until recently!

Bingo is going through these changes and “just decides he’s not going to do it” when asked to do something he would usually have done.

We all remember those teenage years – a time to seek further independence, explore your boundaries and act out a little – and it’s not so different for dogs.

Living with a teenage dog

Acceptance

This research will hopefully make the concept of awkward adolescence in dogs more commonly understood. Simply being aware that a dog’s behavior is part of a normal, natural phase can help owners a great deal. Understanding that your dog’s sudden change in temperament or behavior doesn’t necessarily signal a life-long regression can help to create an acceptance that will bring about more tolerance and patience as they grow out of it.

Training

Another important factor is early and consistent training , to minimize the disruption. Ideally, training should begin around the time a pup reaches eight weeks old, when they enter their most impressionable phase. If a dog owner commits to diligently and consistently training and adequately socializing their dog whilst it is still a pup, it should make the awkward teenage years easier to handle. When things become difficult, there is a foundation of basic training to work back towards and previously instilled good behavior that can be reinforced.

Keep them stimulated

One effective way to traverse this tricky phase with as little fall out as possible is to keep your dog busy. Increasing the amount of mental stimulation and physical exercise they get can help to minimize their desire to behave destructively. Puzzle toys stuffed with treats can also be used to keep them feeling stimulated.

Give them a comfy retreat

Whilst keeping them stimulated and well exercised is vital, it is also important to provide them with a comfy place of their own to retreat to. Much like teenagers like to lock themselves away in their rooms, adolescent dogs can also need some down time, too. There are even some beds designed specifically as calming beds for dogs , helping them to feel less anxious and soothed by such a warm, safe and secure feeling bed.

Most importantly, try to remember that your dog hasn’t completely forgotten all that they have previously learned, they are just struggling to focus as they deal with some hormonal changes. Maintaining consistent training, keeping them well stimulated and giving them some patience and time is key.

About the Author: Emma is a popular pet-blogger and a pet-parent to two four-legged friends. She enjoys sharing her knowledge of pet-health, pet behavior, and pet training.

How to train teenager stage dogs

Teenage dogs. Is it a real phenomenon? Is your sweet little rambunctious puppy going to go through a rebellious phase? Worse yet, are they going to develop an attitude?

Whether you have a puppy who is about to enter teendom, or you’ve noticed a personality change in your adolescent doggo, we’re here to set the record straight. Dogs do go through a teenage phase, complete with mood changes and all kinds of new requirements.

In this article, we’ll talk about when you can expect to see changes, what these developments look like. We’ll also highlight how you can make life easier for you and your pooch.

How to train teenager stage dogs

At what age does a dog become a teenager?

In general, you can expect your dog to enter adolescence at around seven or eight months old. At this stage, your pup has developed all of their adult teeth, been fully potty trained, and hopefully gotten over their chewing phase.

But as much progress as they’ve made already, the next few months will be full of new milestones. Somewhere between eight months and two years, your doggo will reach sexual maturity, grow into their adult weight, and figure out, once and for all, what it means to be a dog. It’s a time of learning, exploration, and (here’s where it gets challenging) boundary-pushing.

Not ready to say goodbye to the puppy months? Take a trip down memory lane with Puppies and Babies: 7 Ways in Which They’re the Same .

Do some dogs become teenagers earlier than others?

Yes! Size is a major determining factor of when your dog is likely to enter into the teenage years.

Small dogs, for instance, tend to enter and leave this phase earlier than larger ones. You can expect a small dog to start showing signs of adolescence at around six months. And, they typically enter into adulthood at around a year and a half.

Large dogs, on the other hand, may become teenage dogs at around eight or 10 months. They won’t settle into the adult phase until anywhere from two to even three years old.

Breeds, then, are a pretty good indication of when you can expect your dog to go through their teen years. Saint Bernards , for instance, can keep growing until they’re three years old. Owners of this breed, and similarly large breeds like the Great Dane , can expect a longer transition from puppyhood to adulthood.

Chihuahuas , on the other hand, go through a relatively short adolescent period. They generally enter the adult phase at 18 months, and won’t enter the senior phase until they’re nine years old.

What kind of behaviour changes are common with teenage dogs?

Amazingly, the kinds of mood and behaviour changes that we see with dogs are quite similar to what we see with human teenagers.

During this life phase, your doggo is experiencing hormonal changes that can drastically change their personality. It’s not uncommon during this time for dogs to become more aggressive towards other dogs, for instance. This might be more obvious with dogs who are prone to dog-directed aggression, such as Rottweilers or Bernese Mountain Dogs .

Teenage dogs can also become more rebellious. A 2020 study found that dogs in adolescence are less likely to listen to the directions of their Owners , even if they previously had mastered those commands. So, if your pupper suddenly appears to forget everything they’ve learned, don’t take it personally. It’s all part of the process.

Teenage dogs may also be more able and more motivated to escape. Whether it’s because your dog is finally tall enough to hop the fence or because their hormones are telling them to go find a mate, Owners of teenage dogs should anticipate that their pup might develop the urge to wander. In this case, you might consider installing a dog-proof fence to keep your teenage pup safe.

What kind of exercise and diet changes should Owners of teenage dogs make?

It’s not just a doggo’s behaviour that changes during the teen months—they’re also going through some big bodily changes! As such, Owners can help them stay healthy and calm by adjusting their daily exercise and diet.

And, when we refer to exercise, we mean both mental and physical. To be sure, increasing their physical exercise is a great way to help them regulate their hormones and burn off some of their energy. You might find that this life phase will require extra trips to the dog park, a few high-intensity activities, and maybe the help of a Dog Walker.

But mental stimulation is equally as important. Training should continue during this phase, even if it can be frustrating to deal with the dip in obedience with teenage dogs. Finding games and mental challenges such as agility training or at-home obstacle courses, can keep your adolescent pup engaged (and out of trouble!).

And, while a healthy diet is always important, good nutrition is crucial at this stage. Teenage dogs are growing, their brains are creating new neural pathways, and they’re dealing with the ups and downs of their hormonal changes. That many biological tasks require nutrient-rich, high-protein dog meals.

Is this the teenage phase or something else?

Now, we should mention that not all changes that you might see during the teenage months are the result of this life phase. And, differentiating between normal developments and signs of a health issue can be tricky. Here are a few changes that you might not want to assume are the result of this life phase:

    • Peeing in the house . Teenage dogs are typically fully house-trained. So, though they may have an accident every once in a while, reverting to peeing in the house all the time is not common and could be a sign of a medical concern.
    • Loss of appetite . During the teen phase, you should notice an increase in appetite for your pup.
    • Lethargy. The many changes your dog is going through in this phase are tiring, yes. But, with a proper diet and adequate rest, your pup should not be slowing down. On the contrary, you’re likely to see an increase in energy and playfulness in teenage dogs.

    If you notice a behaviour change in your pup during adolescence, it’s always a good idea to ask your vet about it. And, if it turns out that the change is common in teenage dogs, your vet may also be able to offer up some words of advice on how to handle it.

    Teenage dogs come with unique challenges, but you can get through it together!

    Without a doubt, teenage dogs can be a handful. So, here are some final words of advice to help you through it:

      • Remember that it’s not personal. Your pupper isn’t acting out on purpose or trying to make your life hard. They’re going through a phase that is largely out of their paws.
      • Stay positive. Teenage dogs will push boundaries and even become a bit selfish. Instead of punishing them, you might find that enticing them with their favourite treats and toys will keep them engaged.
      • Don’t go it alone. The increase in exercise needs can be overwhelming at first. Calling in a regular Dog Walker can do wonders in managing your dog’s moody teen months.
      • Teenage dogs aren’t forever. Before you know it, your dog will be settling into the adult phase and you can look back fondly on all those times they drove you mad.

      Have some advice for Owners of teenage dogs? Be sure to share in the comments!

      How to train teenager stage dogs

      Dogs and humans are very different, but they do have this in common: adolescence is often a rocky period.

      Like human teens, adolescent dogs explore their world and test their own abilities in ways you won’t always like. Be ready for your pup to start acting on thoughts, like: What’s on the other side of the fence? Can I boss these other dogs around? Can I catch that skunk? Who’s that cute Collie?

      All this adolescent adventuring can be wearing on pet parents; in fact, most dogs abandoned at shelters are between eight and 18 months old, at the height of adolescence.

      The good news is, adolescence goes by much more quickly in canines than in people. And if you keep up with the guidelines that got you through puppyhood, as well some new ones just for adolescents, you can keep enjoying your dog and lay the foundation for a happy life together.

      What Defines A Dog’s Adolescent Stage?

      Adolescent dogs aren’t so very different from teenage humans, at least in attitude; they’re hyper, inattentive, exasperating, driven by hormones — if they’re not neutered or spayed, anyway — but somehow lovable in spite of it all.

      At least, most of the time.

      During adolescence, your dog will:

      • Become more interested in the big, wild world than they are in you. A dog who once happily bounded up to you when you called may suddenly become deaf to the “come” command.
      • Have lots of energy and need a good amount of exercise.
      • Become sexually mature. Males may hop fences and take off in search of the ladies, and they may mark in the house to claim their territory. Females will mark to advertise their availability to the guys. Both may become aggressive with other dogs of the same sex. This is one of many reasons you should spay or neuter your dog.
      • Forget commands and have a very short attention span. You may find your pup looking at you like you’re speaking Martian when you give them a command that they knew backward and forward last week.
      • Possibly become shy or frightened of things they took in stride just a few weeks before. Don’t force your dog to confront something that frightens them, but don’t coddle — and thereby reward — their fears, either.
      • Reach their adult height but be a bit awkward and gangly.
      • Lose their cottony puppy coat.

      Behavior Tips & Things To Keep In Mind

      How to train teenager stage dogs

      (Picture Credit: Krista Kumpf)

      Keep your adolescent dog in a gated-off, puppy-proofed part of the house when someone can’t keep an eye on them because adolescents are often chewing machines. Just make sure they also get plenty of time to hang out and bond with the family.

      A tired dog is a well-behaved dog. Your adolescent probably has energy to burn, so give them plenty of exercise. Just avoid letting them run and jump on hard surfaces, such as concrete — your dog’s bones and joints are still developing, and the impact can hurt them.

      Keep training sessions short and fun, using treats and toys, and be prepared to go back a few steps to practice things they’ve learned before. Your adolescent pup has a very short attention span.

      Be calm but consistent about house rules. Your dog is learning from you all the time, whether you want them to or not. Give a command only when you mean it, and kindly, gently insist that they obey.

      Enroll in another obedience class. The guidance of a good trainer will help you get through adolescence, and so will the support of other people who are in the same boat with their “teenage” dogs.

      As in humans, adolescence is a tumultuous time in a dog’s life. But if you understand the phase and know how to handle it, you’ll continue to enjoy your pup and will come out the other side with a great adult dog.

      Are you dealing with an adolescent dog at home? Got any tips for keeping them happy and well-behaved? Let us know in the comments below!

      Click the bold links in the article to shop for your dog and support our content!

      When does dog adolescence start and how long does it last? Puppies usually become ‘teenagers’ at around five to six months of age and, depending on individual and breed, adolescence usually finishes around 18 months to two years.

      How long does teenage phase last in dogs?

      What age is adolescence in dogs? Adolescence marks the change from being a juvenile to becoming an adult. In dogs, it can start anytime between six and 12 months and can end between 18 and 24 months. During this time, there are dramatic hormonal changes and a reorganisation of the brain.

      How long is puppy rebellious stage?

      Like humans, dogs go through a rebellious “teenager” phase (around 5 months to 18 months). During this time, they’ll often test their owners, seeing what they can get away with. Being firm and consistent with your training will help establish boundaries.

      At what age are puppies the naughtiest?

      Well, those days are gone when puppies hit their adolescent stage. Technically, dogs hit the equivalent of their teenage stage between 6-18 months. But, I find that the absolute worst phase for urban dogs is 5-10 months of age.

      What should I expect from a teenage puppy?

      Puppy adolescence is a time when your pup will be starting to become more independent. At this age, they are beginning to look at the world as adult rather than as an infant and so rather than relying on you for security; they are more likely to go ‘self-employed’.

      Do dogs go through a teenage phase?

      Dogs become “teenagers” and seem to forget everything they have ever been taught. This period is individual to each dog, but it may begin when he’s about eight months old and continue until he’s two years old. … There are numerous strategies for dealing with dog adolescence, both before it starts and during this phase.

      Is a 15 month old dog still a puppy?

      Puppies mature into adults at a different time, which means that a large dog breed will mature into an adult at about 15 months, while smaller breeds will be puppies for only 9 months.

      Do puppies go through an aggressive stage?

      Most puppies are through the worst of the biting phase by about four months old. After about six months of age, some puppies begin to show signs of fear aggression. This means that they may growl or snap at strangers who approach or try to touch them.

      What is the hardest puppy stage?

      Most puppies will go through a very trying stage when they turn about 5 months of age. Dogs often don’t out grow that teenager phase for 2-3 years depending upon the breed. Many experts agree that the most challenging time is between the ages of 8 months to about 18 months.

      Do puppies calm down at 6 months?

      Your 6-month-old puppy is an adolescent now, and their behavior may show it. … Reward for calm behavior and ignore fearful behavior. It is common for adolescent puppies to exhibit some destructive behavior in this stage. This is often caused by boredom due to the increase in energy and confidence.

      Do teenage dogs sleep more?

      This is just an average and some dogs will sleep more and others less, and growth spurts during his adolescence will cause him to catch even more naps.

      How long does an adolescent last?

      Adolescence begins with the onset of physiologically normal puberty, and ends when an adult identity and behaviour are accepted. This period of development corresponds roughly to the period between the ages of 10 and 19 years, which is consistent with the World Health Organization’s definition of adolescence.

      Does neutering a dog calm them down?

      A lot of owners find their dog chills out more after being neutered whether they’re male or female. While neutering your dog might help to calm them down a bit, sometimes that’s not the only cause of a dog being a bit much. … Neutering your dog will only do so much to calm them down – the rest is up to you.

      He tears through the house, leaving a mess in his wake. She’s suddenly shy and her happy personality has dissolved into moodiness. Sometime after your dog reaches 6 months, he or she will plunge headlong into canine adolescence – where hormones rule.

      Like people, dogs react differently to puberty. Some have an easier time of it than others, but a “teenage dog” of any breed can display unpredictable, even uncharacteristic behavior – which can last an entire year. Behavior seems to depend more on the individual dog than on the breed.

      If you visit your local pound, you’ll find a disproportionate number of teenage dogs in the kennels: Many folks become so disillusioned with their pets at this stage that they put them up for adoption. To make matters worse, these rejected dogs often make the worst impression on potential adopters because they are deprived of the attention, guidance and stimulation they need.

      Physical Changes in Adolescent Dogs

      The onset of puberty will be most recognizable in your male dog. He’ll begin lifting his leg to mark territory and mounting other dogs, humans, and even furniture.

      It’s not unusual to discover a puddle of urine, left by a formerly housebroken adolescent dog. Females use urine to attract mates; males use it to mark their territory. In adolescence, such tendencies may remain even though your pet is “fixed.” (A neutered dog is never an “it” but simply a hormoneless, toned-down version of its biological sex).

      A non-spayed female experiences her first heat around 8 months of age. A neutered male reaches sexual maturity at about the same time. Spaying or neutering before seven months evens out the vicissitudes of youth somewhat, but you can’t avoid them altogether.

      The urge to chew also drives your teen-puppy‘s actions, and often is the first evidence that your dog is getting his secondary teeth and is coming of age. If you’ve let your strict crating rules lapse, you may well arrive home one day to find some significant damage done to a sofa, wooden bedpost, plastic toy chest, or other similarly chewable object. As teeth first erupt, and even after they’re beyond the gum line, they need a good workout to ensure strong and accurate placement. All that gnawing helps align a dog’s teeth in his jawbone. So, replenish your supply of rawhide and chew toys and hang on for the ride!

      Also around this time, your dog goes through an intense period of shedding his fuzzy puppy coat and acquiring the type of hair distinctive to his breed. Be prepared to brush him and vacuum your home often.

      The fact that your dog’s skeleton and muscles are growing by leaps and bounds during his teen months can be a blessing for your relationship. You can admire the enthusiasm and perseverance he applies in trying to coordinate his gangly limbs and get a chuckle out of his efforts, same as you did when he was a cuddly little puppy.

      Keeping Your Adolescent Dog Active

      Your teen-age dog will benefit and learn from distractions – exercise, play, toys, and the company of other dogs. If you alone can’t keep up with his high energy level, arrange for him to frolic in a dog park with other canine teens. In their absence, find a few animal-loving human teens who don’t mind the company of a non-stop dog, as they rollerblade around or shoot baskets.

      It’s easy to get into the practice of endlessly telling your dog “no” when you observe unwanted behaviors. But it’s not a good pattern to adopt. Instead, distract the dog from learning the unwanted behavior in the first place by providing enough toys, trips to new places and other stimulation. That is, teach your dog what you want him to do, not simply what not to do.

      Taking Charge of Dog Adolescence

      Brace yourself for dealing with the many moods of adolescence. If your teenager frequently becomes submissive, don’t scold her. Kneel down on her level and praise her when she responds positively. If he becomes aggressive, frightened, or anxious, don’t rush to calm or comfort him, because that reinforces the behavior, by giving him the attention he wants.

      Even when it seems hopeless and your dog seems to have forgotten all he has learned, don’t give up on training your dog. In fact, obedience classes are just what your dog needs. He’ll be around other dogs and learn to relate to them. He’ll develop confidence and self-control that will serve him throughout his life. And, at a stage of life that can be confusing and difficult, he’ll get a chance to spend lots of time interacting with his favorite companion – you.

      Emily Hallam describes 14-month-old boxer Cooper as being “like a small kangaroo”.

      “I’m very lucky my work is flexible and I’m able to take short breaks to play with him otherwise he would tear the house to shreds. He’s so curious. His energy is just through the roof.”

      Loz Robinson and Emily Hallam from Melbourne’s Glen Iris adopted 14-month-old boxer Cooper in July. Credit: Simon Schluter

      Hallam and partner Loz Robinson adopted Cooper from RSPCA Victoria in July after instantly falling in love with his playful, friendly nature. But she jokes that he acts just like a teenager: he’s boisterous, stubborn, attention-seeking and easily distracted. And without routine, “he acts out”.

      This, according to experienced dog trainer Barbara Hodel, is entirely normal, as dogs have a period of adolescence between puppyhood and adulthood. Research published in May by British scientists found dogs were more likely to ignore commands given by their caregiver and were harder to train when going through puberty.

      And it’s a phase many so-called “COVID puppies” will be entering soon.

      Hodel, who has a book called How to Love and Survive Your Teenage Dog, says common behaviours include barking or lunging at other people and dogs, pulling intensely on the lead, refusing to come when called, testing boundaries and digging in the yard.

      “They don’t make good assessments of situations and that’s why they’re so emotional and act over the top,” she says.

      “I think if people know it’s just a phase and there is a reason for it, they’re better able to manage.”

      Hodel says the timing and duration of the teen phase depends on the dog breed and size, beginning as early as seven months old and reaching maturity as late as 24 months of age.

      Animal behaviour expert Dr Kate Mornement, of Pets Behaving Badly, says adolescent dogs can be more difficult than puppies because people are better prepared for the earlier hurdles of toilet training and teething.

      “Teenage dogs can be challenging because their behaviour can regress. Your usually well behaved puppy may start to ignore you and become disobedient,” Mornement says.

      This really is just a phase that everyone has to go through. I call them the P-platers of the dog world.

      Barbara Hodel

      Hodel says this developmental phase can be “very similar” to that of human teenagers.

      “They want to be independent and they want to be loved all at the same time.”

      Hodel recommends owners avoid over-exercising their dog and instead strike a balance between both physical and mental stimulation.

      “Often owners try to run them into the ground every single day and all they’re doing is creating a fit dog,” she says.

      “You want to make them mentally tired because they’re much easier to live with.”

      She suggests regularly playing with them and teaching them something new, such as a trick or game. She adds that puzzles, in the form of food dispensers, can be a great alternative to bowl feeding.

      Socialising, using positive reinforcement and being consistent with education and routine will also help, she says.

      “It will come together eventually. This really is just a phase that everyone has to go through. I call them the P-platers of the dog world,” Hodel says.

      “Have a good sense of humour, good information, and a little bit of tenacity and this phase will only last a few months compared to years with children. You’ll get out the other end with a well-adjusted and happy friend for life.”

      Mornement agrees: “This is a time when dogs need our patience and understanding so don't take their poor behaviour personally.”

      As for Cooper, Hallam says joining Facebook groups for training advice has been helpful during lockdown.

      And as much as he is a little rascal at this age, Hallam and Robinson adore him.

      “He’s definitely been a little blessing. I say that as he’s lying on the carpet chewing a stick.”

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      A lot of dog owners face the same problem around 6 to 18 months into their puppy’s lives. What was once your well-trained, obedient and adorable pup has turned, almost overnight, into a rebellious terror! Don’t fear! This is extremely common and will not last forever. Sadly, shelters contain a lot of dogs within this age range as owners become irritated with the behaviour and do not have the patience to see it through. In this blog we go into detail about your puppy’s change both physically and mentally and what you can do to get them back on track.

      Just like human kids, your puppy will experience the rocky road to becoming an adolescent, and sometimes it is not pretty. Your puppy usually begins to show this change in behaviour around the time he starts to loose his puppy teeth and his adult teeth begin to show. This usually takes owners by surprise since it is likely your puppy stopped chewing a while back and you thought you were finally safe to leave your shoes, remotes, children’s toys in reach of your puppy. Unfortunately the second teething phase tends to do a lot more damage than the first as your dog now has a stronger and larger jaw, meaning they can chew twice as much! If you are unable to supervise your dog at home during the day it is recommended you crate them or use a large pen filled with acceptable and durable dog chewing toys to keep them entertained. Always reward and praise your dog calmly when they use the correct chew toys or dog chew treats. Once your dog’s adult teeth have fully grown in the need to chew should come to an end.

      Your adolescent dog can be disruptive, cheeky and start to ignore your commands. This is because your puppy’s immature brain is developing as well as their bodies and it can be a very stressful and confusing time for them. Remember to take a deep breath, calm yourself down and remember that your puppy is bound to be just as frustrated and befuddled as you are. As well as the mental changes, your dog will be going through hormonal changes. You may notice your dog suddenly marking their territory, not listening to you when approaching other dogs, humping anything that moves and ‘bullying’ family members. These are all signs of hormonal changes and an attempt to assert dominance in the home. Neutering or spaying your dog can help to eliminate hormone related behaviours. Please contact your vet to discuss neutering.

      So what can you do to get both you and your dog through this phase?

      • First, have patience. There is no quick fix for this phase but your dog needs a strong and dominant parent to guide them. Your dog will be able to feel when you are stressed and they will also take on that energy. Try to remain as calm and assertive as possible.
      • Start introducing small training sessions back into your dog’s daily routine. Practice your basic cues such as sit, down, stay and recall in the house as well as out on walks and use lots of positive reinforcement as well as tasty treats to keep them interested.
      • Make them ‘earn’ their food. Start feeding your dog after they have completed exercise such as a walk or a game of fetch. Also teach your dog to sit and wait before you feed them. He will soon learn that once he has obeyed your order, he will get what he wants. Fun games such as Snuffle Mats and food puzzles will also encourage your dog to work for their food. Do not let your dog bully you into giving him attention or food. Dogs respect those who control the resources in their lives, especially food.
      • Encourage positive play with your dog. You will probably notice your dog has a lot more energy now than when he was only a few months old and sleeping 18 hours a day. Playing a game of tug, fetch or football with your dog will release built up energy and also teach them how to play fairly. If you have children at home you should also teach them how to play correctly with your dog to avoid any accidents. There should be no ear or tailing pulling, no screaming or erratic behaviour and no snatching of toys or food.
      • As well as play, walks should be increased at this time in your dog’s life. A young dog will benefit from at least two walks a day. This way they can blow off steam, interact with different people and dogs and use their natural instincts to smell new and exciting things. Mix your walks up and try different dog friendly locations. This will also mean your dog will be more relaxed at home and more likely to sleep than raise hell! Find out more about our solo walks here.
      • Socialise. Your dog can benefit a lot by being in the presence of other (and older) dogs at this time. Dog’s will pick up on positive behaviour traits and quickly learn manners from dogs that have been through the teenage chapter and survived! Walking and playing with their furry pals will also tire your dog out and encourage calm behaviour once you are home. Find out more about our group walks here.
      • Remember that your dog is a big part of your life but for your dog, you are their entire life. They are really depending on you at this time in their lives to guide them through and help produce a well trained, socialised and happy pooch. Keep positive and enthusiastic about your four-legged best friend and together you will survive the teenage phase!

      Here at Lou’s Dog Services we are here to help make you and your dog’s lives easier. Contact us today to book your dog’s group walks, solo walks or doggy day care sessions.

      The first evidence of dogs going through emotional changes during puberty has been discovered. They are more likely to disobey orders from their dog-parents and be more difficult to train. Behavior does improve after puberty when dogs reach 12 months of age.

      The first evidence of dogs going through emotional changes during puberty has been discovered. They are more likely to disobey orders from their dog-parents and be more difficult to train. Behavior does improve after puberty when dogs reach 12 months of age.

      How to train teenager stage dogs

      Dogs are man’s best friend; a loyal four-legged friend with a never-ending ability to fetch. For many reasons, many people decide to adopt a puppy to grow alongside their family. While puppies are adorable, sometimes they can be too much to handle. A continued lack of obedience may even frustrate dog-parents into returning the puppy . According to some English researchers, abandoning the dog may be a premature decision. New research shows that dogs have an adolescent phase where they temporarily act out like rebellious teens.

      Puberty marks an important developmental stage where emotional and physical changes are occurring in the body. And inside the brain, teens are a ticking time bomb . The prefrontal cortex, a brain area important in decision-making and logical thinking, is still developing. To make matters worse, another brain area, the hypothalamus, acts as an instigator by releasing hormones to stimulate the production of estrogen and testosterone. Not only do these hormones develop our bodies, they also influence the emotional parts of the brain to focus on social rather than familial relationships.

      The final product is a moody and impulsive teenager prone to making bad decisions. Because teenagers are more concerned about peer acceptance, romance, and sexual relationships, this can put a huge strain on the parent-child relationship. But parents know that teenage rebellion doesn’t last forever. After puberty, young adults are more mature and rational with fully developed brains . So, researchers wanted to see if parent-teen conflicts were similar to dog-owner conflicts. If so, can the dog problems resolve after puberty?

      The researchers observed 70 female dogs, starting at 2 to 3 months until 12 to 14 months. During this time, dog owners filled out questionnaires on the dog’s behavior. The Attachment and Attention Seeking as well as the Separation-Related Behaviour scales were both used to measure attachment behavior. Higher ratings meant insecure attachment. To rule out anxiety as the driver for insecure attachment, they administered another questionnaire measuring general anxiety. Dogs that scored high on the attachment scales at 5 months of age entered puberty faster. There was no link to the timing of puberty and general anxiety. The researchers suggest a correlation between dogs who do not have strong attachments to their dog owners and early puberty.

      They do get over the teenaged phase eventually! Source: PXHere

      The second part of the study focused on how well 41 male and 52 female dogs obeyed their caretaker’s orders. Dog obedience responses were observed at 5 months (before puberty) and 8 months (during puberty). At 8 months, dogs were less responsive when the caretaker yelled ‘sit’ compared to 5 months. But dogs did respond to the ‘sit’ command when it was performed by a stranger rather than the caretaker.

      To support the evidence of rebellious teenage dogs, researchers surveyed 285 new dog owners and a professional dog trainer. The survey measured how “trainable” you think a dog is at 5 months (before puberty), 8 months (during puberty) and 12 months (after puberty). Dog owners reported their pets were difficult to train at 8 months. In turn, dog owners rated their dogs more trainable at 5 and 12 months. Meanwhile, the trainer rated dogs more trainable at 5 and 8 months.

      Because of the different responses between dog owners and the trainer, the researchers wondered whether training difficulties during puberty was associated with dogs who did not have a strong attachment to their owners. The Separation-Related Behavior scale was given again to dog-owners to measure insecure attachment. Results showed a 36% increase in insecure attachment for dogs undergoing puberty compared to before and after puberty. In addition, 8-month old dogs with high insecure attachment correlated with difficulties training and lower obedience. This correlation was not seen when the owners rated the dog at 5- or 12-month-old.

      The researchers suggest that the behavior seen in 8-month old dogs reflect the teenage-parent conflicts commonly seen in puberty. However, dog-owner disobedience was more noticeable when dogs didn’t have a strong relationship with their owner. As trainability improved when dogs grew to 12 months, the researchers believe this rebellious streak doesn’t last forever. So, if you feel like tearing your hair out when you see the dog tearing up the couch pillow, just remember this too shall pass.

      Related posts:

      Study published on: May 13, 2020

      Study author(s): Lucy Asher, Gary C. W. England, Rebecca Sommerville and Naomi D. Harvey

      The study was done at: Newcastle University, University of Nottingham, University of Edinburgh

      The study was funded by: Guide Dogs UK, Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, and University of Nottingham

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      How to train teenager stage dogs

      As your puppy starts to get to six months of age, you’ll discover that your baby has grown into a teenager. This is a period that many owners don’t anticipate as they often expect their dog will just slip seamlessly from being a puppy into being an adult, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Canine adolescence is a recognisably different stage of puppyhood, as your teenage puppy starts to mature into an adult.

      There’s a reason why the most common age for dogs being given to rescue centres is between 6 and 18 months old, and this is because canine adolescence can be a tricky time. With a little knowledge, preparation and a fair bit of patience however, you will find that you can deal with all the issues that living with a teenage dog can bring. With this guide, you’ll both be able to sail through puppy adolescence and out the other side with your relationship and sanity intact.

      When does a puppy become a teenager?

      Canine adolescence starts at different times for different breeds and can last for varying lengths of time, but a good benchmark is between 6 and 18 months old. Smaller breeds tend to hit their teenage phase earlier than larger breeds who develop more slowly, and a small breed dog will often become an adult dog by around a year old. Giant breeds can be two years plus before their puppy adolescence is behind them.

      How to train teenager stage dogs

      What happens during puppy adolescence?

      During this period there are several developmental processes at work. Being aware of what they are and the effects they are likely to have on your puppy’s behaviour during canine adolescence will mean you can be prepared to deal with them. This in turn will shorten the time they will have an impact on both your lives.

      This is a time when your teenage puppy will be starting to become more independent. During puppy adolescence they are beginning to look on the world as an adult rather than as an infant – and so rather than relying on you for security, they are more likely to feel independent. This can often mean that their instinct is to listen to you less, wander further from you when on walks, and be less likely to respond to you when you call (no matter how good their recall was before). Some will even take flight or actively avoid you when you call them. In fact, it’s sometimes easy to believe that a teenage puppy has never been taught a recall at all – which can drive many owners to despair!

      How to deal with puppy adolescence

      The important thing is to stay calm. Don’t punish them in any way as this will just make them even less likely to come to you, and instead go back to basics with your recall training and include lots of rewards. Most importantly, do not let your teenage puppy get into the habit of not coming back during canine adolescence. This means using a long-line for a few weeks, so your dog still gets freedom to run, sniff and explore but isn’t able to ignore you or take off into the distance. By doing this, you will shorten this flight period and get your training back on track relatively quickly.

      Why is my teenage puppy suddenly scared?

      Dogs also have a second fear period that happens somewhere between 6 and 18 months of age. Sometimes this just happens once, but in other dogs it can happen several times – this may coincide with growth spurts or hormone surges. This period is characterised by your teenage puppy seeming to be reactive or scared of things that haven’t bothered them in the past – strange people, unknown dogs, unfamiliar objects or places. Managing this period properly is vitally important as this seems to be the time when single-event learning is the most likely to occur. In other words, a bad experience at this time can have a lasting effect on your dog’s behaviour even if all their previous interactions have been positive.

      Watch your dog closely during this period in canine adolescence and notice if they seem to be reacting differently to things they normally take in their stride. Do not think they are being difficult, tell them off or punish them for these behaviours, otherwise you will exacerbate their fear. Instead, remember your initial socialisation and habituation techniques and work to make all encounters positive. Don’t force your dog to ‘face up to their fears’ but instead keep a comfortable distance where they do not feel they have to react or be worried, let them approach, retreat and explore in their own time, and reward them with treats to keep all interactions positive.

      Avoid negative encounters or potentially worrying situations as far as is possible in this period of puppy adolescence, as a bad experience now could colour the way your dog looks at the world and effect his behaviour as an adult. While continued socialisation is vital, keep it to dogs, people and places you know, as this is the period where it is better to have little experience than a bad experience. So, get out and about, keep encouraging your dog to be social, but work hard to keep all these experiences and encounters positive and fun.

      Why is my adolescent dog behaving differently?

      The 6 to 18 month period combines with the hormone surges that come with puppy adolescence, and this can increase excitability, intensity and over-reactions to just about everything, and a heightening of existing behaviours. Shy dogs can become shyer, and confident dogs can become more confident. This is the time where a lack of adequate and appropriate socialisation and habituation can become an issue, and those dogs who have missed out on this can start to show behaviour problems associated with fear, including reactivity and aggression.

      If you haven’t already, talk to your vet about neutering and decide if it is right for your dog. There are health benefits for both male and female dogs and it may make certain behaviours easier to manage.

      How to train teenager stage dogs

      Are teenage puppies teething?

      As if behavioural changes weren’t enough to be dealing with in your teenage puppy, dogs also get their full set of adult teeth at around six months of age. These teeth need to set properly in the gums – and for this to happen a teenage puppy really needs to be able to chew! Many people don’t understand this and think their teenage puppy is just being destructive, when they actually have a physical need to have things to gnaw on. Kong toys are perfect for this, and stuffed with food they will provide ideal chewing opportunities while your puppy is teething – and can save your furniture and your shoes!

      While sometimes it is easy to think that your adolescent dog is intentionally trying your patience, in reality canine adolescence is a complex developmental time for your dog. Keep that in mind and, with a bit of teamwork, you will get through it together!

      If you do have serious concerns about your dog’s behaviour, consult your vet, or a qualified and experienced behaviourist.

      Like humans, dogs are vulnerable while going through adolescence, according to scientists.

      Published: 13th May, 2020 at 10:24

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      Humans are not alone in going through the emotional rollercoaster of puberty. UK scientists have found dogs endure a similar phase during adolescence at around eight months of age.

      They warn that puberty can be a vulnerable time for dogs, especially if they are rehomed at this age.

      Study leader Dr Lucy Asher, a senior lecturer in precision animal science at Newcastle University’s School of Natural and Environmental Sciences, said: “This is a very important time in a dog’s life.

      “This is when dogs are often rehomed because they are no longer a cute little puppy and suddenly, their owners find they are more challenging and they can no longer control them or train them. But as with human teenage children, owners need to be aware that their dog is going through a phase and it will pass.”

      Read more about pets:

      While similar findings have been observed in cows, the researchers said the study is the first to find evidence of “typical teenage behaviour” in dogs.

      The team, from the universities of Newcastle, Edinburgh and Nottingham, studied the behaviour of 354 dogs, including labradors, golden retrievers, German shepherds and cross breeds of them.

      How to train teenager stage dogs

      They analysed how obedient the dogs were before adolescence, when they were around five months old, and during adolescence, when they reached eight months of age. The researchers looked at the “trainability” of the dogs, using a questionnaire to assess whether they were able to follow commands.

      They found dogs were harder to train when they were going through puberty and more likely to ignore commands given by their owners. This behaviour was more pronounced in dogs which felt insecure about their relationships with their caregivers, the researchers said.

      Read more about dogs:

      The experts also found female dogs were more likely to reach puberty early if they had insecure attachments, characterised by higher levels of attention seeking and separation anxiety, to their owners.

      Dr Asher said: “It’s very important that owners don’t punish their dogs for disobedience or start to pull away from them emotionally at this time. This would be likely to make any problem behaviour worse, as it does in human teens.”

      The findings are published in the journal Biology Letters.

      Why do dogs go grey but cats don’t?

      Asked by: John Duncan Pawson, Scarborough

      Strictly speaking, cats can go grey. Some cats will go grey as they age but not on the scale that dogs and humans do. As our feline friends mature, they retain enough melanocytes – the cells in the hair follicles responsible for the production of the pigment melanin – to ensure that the colouring process does not significantly diminish.

      We are not sure why this is the case. For example, it is possible that cats are born with a greater number of melanocytes in the first place, or that they simply don’t decline at the same rate as they do in dogs.

      How to train teenager stage dogs

      A UK study has demonstrated that, like human teenagers, dogs go through a moody adolescent stage during puberty.

      A recent study has demonstrated that, like human teenagers, dogs go through a moody adolescent stage when they’re in puberty. Published in Biology Letters, the study — “Teenage dogs? Evidence for adolescent-phase conflict behavior and an association between attachment to humans and pubertal timing in the domestic dog” — found that dogs in puberty (at eight months of age) are more likely to ignore commands given by their caregivers, and are also harder to train. This behavior is more pronounced in dogs with an insecure attachment to their owners.

      “This is a very important time in a dog’s life,” says study leader Dr. Lucy Asher, the Senior Lecturer in Precision Animal Science at Newcastle University’s School of Natural and Environmental Sciences. “It’s when dogs are often re-homed because they are no longer cute little puppies, and suddenly, their owners find they are more challenging and can no longer control or train them. But as with human teenage children, owners need to be aware that their dogs are going through a phase and that it will pass.”

      Dr. Asher and other researchers from Nottingham and Edinburgh Universities monitored a group of 69 Labradors, golden retrievers, and crossbreeds of the two for obedience at the ages of five months – before adolescence – and eight months — during adolescence. The team found that the dogs took longer to respond to the “sit” command during adolescence, as opposed to before adolescence. Additionally, the dogs were less likely to respond when the command was given by their caretakers as opposed to strangers.

      Further supporting evidence was found when the team next looked a larger group of 285 Labradors, golden retrievers, German shepherds and their crossbreeds. Their owners, along with trainers less familiar with each dog, filled in questionnaires looking at the dogs’ “trainability”. It asked them to rate statements such as: “Refuses to obey commands, which in the past he has learned” and “Responds immediately to the recall command when off lead”. Caregivers gave lower scores of “trainability” to dogs around adolescence, compared to when they were five or 12 months old. The trainers reported that they found the dogs more trainable during adolescence than the owners did.

      The experts also found that, in common with humans, female dogs with insecure attachments to their caregivers (characterised by higher levels of attention-seeking and separation anxiety) were more likely to reach puberty early. This data provides the first cross-species evidence of the impact relationship quality has on reproductive timing, highlighting another parallel with parent-child relationships.

      “Our results show that the behavior changes seen in dogs closely parallel that of parent-child relationships…and that just as with human teenagers, it’s a passing phase,” says Dr Naomi Harvey, co-author of the research from the University of Nottingham’s School of Veterinary Medicine and Science.

      “It’s very important that owners don’t punish their dogs for disobedience, or start to pull away from them emotionally at this time,” adds Dr Asher. “This would likely make any problem behavior worse, as it does in human teens.”

      How to train teenager stage dogs

      In the first-ever study to find evidence of adolescent behavior in pups, a team of U.K. researchers have shown that dogs experience angst-ridden rebellious teenage years too.

      As it turns out, dogs don’t like doing as they’re told in their teen years either. At the age of eight months, when pups go through puberty, the dogs in the study were more likely to ignore commands given by their caregivers and were in general more of a challenge to train. This rebellious behavior was magnified in the dogs that had insecure attachment styles in relation to their owners.

      Researchers from Newcastle University, University of Nottingham, and the University of Edinburgh looked at a group of 69 dogs to investigate their adolescent obedience. They monitored behavior in Golden Retrievers and Labradors, as well as cross breeds of the two, at the ages of five months (a bit before adolescence) and eight months (during adolescence).

      Dogs took longer to respond to a command to ‘sit’ during adolescence. However, this was only true when the command was given by their caregiver, not a stranger. The odds that a teen pooch would repeatedly not respond to a ‘sit’ command from the caregiver were higher at eight months as compared to five months. However, the response to the ‘sit’ command improved for a stranger between the five and eight month tests, implying that the adolescent dog simply was choosing not to listen to their owner for the sake of not doing as they were told.

      This finding was further backed when the team looked at a larger group of 285 dogs that included Labradors, Golden Retrievers, and German Shepherds, as well as their cross breeds. Dog owners and a trainer less familiar with each of the dogs filled out a survey on “trainability,” in which they rated statements like: “Refuses to obey commands, which in the past it was proven it has learned” and “Responds immediately to the recall command when off lead.”

      While the caregivers rated the adolescent dogs lower on trainability as compared to when they were five-months or 12-months-old, trainers less familiar with the dogs reported that they were more trainable between five and eight months of age.

      How to train teenager stage dogs

      Photo Credit: FLOUFFY/Unsplash

      The team also found that female dogs who had insecure attachments to their caregivers, which is characterized by high levels of attention seeking and stress when separated from them, were more likely to reach puberty prematurely. Interestingly, the same phenomena has been observed in humans; studies have linked girls’ early puberty to insecure attachment.

      “This data provides the first evidence of cross-species impact of relationship quality on reproductive timing, highlighting another parallel with parent-child relationships,” states the Newcastle University press release on this new canine study.

      Consequently, many dogs are taken to shelters to be moved to a new home during puberty. According to the study’s lead author, Lucy Asher, Ph.D., adolescence can therefore be a vulnerable time in a pup’s life.

      “This is when dogs are often re-homed because they are no longer a cute little puppy and suddenly, their owners find they are more challenging and they can no longer control them or train them,” Asher, a Senior Lecturer in Precision Animal Science, in the University’s School of Natural and Environmental Sciences, said in the press release. “But as with human teenage children, owners need to be aware that their dog is going through a phase and it will pass.”

      Naomi Harvey, Ph.D., who co-authored the research, echoed this sentiment, noting that this research has important consequences for dogs and their owners.

      “Many dog owners and professionals have long known or suspected that dog behavior can become more difficult when they go through puberty” said Harvey. “But until now there has been no empirical record of this. Our results show that the behavior changes seen in dogs closely parallel that of parent-child relationships, as dog-owner conflict is specific to the dog’s primary caregiver and just as with human teenagers, this is a passing phase.”

      So, as much as you may want to, don’t emotionally detach yourself or yell at your poor angsty pup at this time. Teenage years aren’t easy for anyone, dogs included.

      How to train teenager stage dogs

      Is your dog acting out? Is she moodier than usual? She might just be entering her teenage years!

      According to the results of a recent study, dogs demonstrate reduced obedience toward their humans when going through canine puberty. UK-based researchers discovered that during this “teenage” stage of a dog’s life, which can start at as early as four months of age, he’s more apt to ignore simple commands such as “sit” and “stay”.

      The team observed 69 dogs before adolescence (five months) and then again during this stage (eight months). Dogs in adolescence took longer to respond when asked to “sit”, even if they’d been quick to obey the command in the past. A questionnaire distributed to 285 dog guardians showed similar results – canines going through puberty were harder to train!

      Interestingly, the dogs involved in the study were only “moody” toward their own guardians. With strangers, they were much better behaved. “We found evidence that dogs do show a period of reduced obedience that is specific to their owners, not to other people,” says zoologist Dr. Naomi Harvey. “This is associated with all the issues going on inside the dog during puberty. Hormonal fluctuations and remodelling of the brain as the dog matures cause a lot of issues.”

      How to train teenager stage dogs

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