Adolescence in Dogs

In humans, adolescence is the time when teenagers are in transition from children to adults. Research has shown that the brains of human adolescents change during this time and their thought processes don’t always make much sense. Human teenagers are emotional, moody, and are prone to challenging authority. Canine adolescents are similar. It’s not unusual for adolescents to ‘forget’ the rules. Teenagers – human and canine both – challenge authority.

Don’t take the challenges of adolescence personally. Your puppy is not acting out to hurt or anger you; this is a natural part of puppyhood and growing up. During this stage of puppyhood, practice patience. When your puppy is pushing your buttons, chewing up your shoes, and dashing out the front door every time it opens, take a deep breath before reacting. Screaming and yelling aren’t going to help anything and could threaten the relationship you have with your puppy.

Practice your puppy’s training skills often. The basic obedience skills – sit, down, stay, watch me, come, and leave it – should become a part of your daily routine. Keep the training fun but also require your puppy to cooperate. These exercises are not optional.

Be consistent with your household rules. If your puppy is not allowed on the furniture, don’t allow him up now. If he is to wait for permission before coming in the house, make sure he waits now too, even though he may try dashing in. Be consistent with all of the rules that are important to you.

Adolescence tends to begin any time between seven and ten months of age with nine months being typical. The worst of this stage is generally between nine and twelve months. After that the challenging behavior tends to slowly disappear as the puppy grows up. Small breed dogs grow up more quickly and usually by eighteen months of age, they are fairly mentally mature. The larger the breed, the slower they mature.

Be patient, be consistent, keep practicing, and love your puppy dog.