The Truth About Teenage Dogs
Have you ever wondered why your sweet, adorable puppy who previously hung onto your every word and did everything you said suddenly became deaf to your voice, forgetting every command you’d taught him and seeming to constantly push boundaries? The answer: canine adolescence. Yes, dog go through a teenage phase just like humans do and it can be an equally challenging time for all involved although with patience and the right training and guidance, most dogs will mature into a wonderful adult companion that you will adore.
What’s Happening to My Cute Little Puppy?While individuals may vary, most dogs start to go through canine adolescence between 6 and 18 months. Just like in humans, their bodies will be undergoing a many changes as they grow rapidly and transform into an adult. However, again just like in humans, in many cases, while the body may be fully adult, the brain may still be very immature and can take several months to catch up.
Why is My Pup Tearing Up the House?As your pup will be getting his permanent teeth now, you may notice a sudden increase in the urge to chew anything and everything. Make sure plenty of appropriate chew toys are available as otherwise, your dog will find his own solution to for his chewing urge and your best shoes will not be sacred! Remember also that a bored, restless dog will chew for entertainment and to release energy. Training, appropriate exercise and playing games will stimulate the dog’s mind and tire him out, so preventing him from mischief in the house.
How Come My Puppy Runs So Funny?Puppies will often grow in a sporadic fashion and at uneven rates – sometimes the back legs will be longer than the front ones or vice versa! They can also seem very uncoordinated until they get used to their longer limbs and larger bodies. Some dogs – particularly large and giant breeds – can experience growth spurts and “growing pains” from sudden rapid growth, so will require more care and attention to their exercise and recreational activities to avoid developmental abnormalities and injuries.
Why Does My Puppy Not Feel So Soft and Fluffy Anymore?Just like puppy teeth, the puppy coat will fall out and be replaced by the adult coat during adolescence. Depending on the breed, this can resemble the puppy coat or be very different, both in terms if length and colour and type of hair – however, most adult coats will feel much harsher in texture than puppy coats.
Why is My Puppy Doing All These Weird Things?Dogs that have not been neutered will also be entering sexual maturity and may start displaying sex-related behaviours which you may find annoying – such as excessive marking with urine, roaming and even aggression towards dogs of the same gender. Raging hormones can also mean that your dog is constantly distracted by temptations in the environment and unable to have any length of attention span. To save you and your dog a lot of grief, prevent behavioural problems (and pet overpopulation), spaying of all pet dogs is recommended.
Why is My Pup Getting into Fights?As dogs enter adolescence, they lose their “puppy licence” and adult dogs they meet will start to hold them more accountable for their behaviour – often reprimanding them or disciplining them in canine fashion. If you have a puppy that is particularly confident and does not accept reprimands easily, this can sometimes escalate into a “fight”. Remember, in the wild, your puppy would now be finding his or her place in the pack and this is a process that does not always go smoothly. In addition, any fears that your puppy may have developed when younger will now be expressed as shy or aggressive behaviours – this is why socialisation during the early imprinting period is so important.
Will I Ever Get My Nice Dog Back?Don’t worry – it might seem like your dog has turned into a monster but take heart: with the right training and guidance, your dog will pass safely through adolescence and emerge older and wiser – and better-behaved!
However don’t rely on your dog just “growing out of it” – while he may mature and lose some of his mischieveous ways, without the right training, those antics would become permanent bad habits in an adult dog. So keep up the training – keep attending training school, at least until a year of age (and often older, for the larger, slower-maturing breeds). Always confine your puppy to a safe place (e.g. crate) when he or she cannot be supervised and be patient. You may need to repeat many of your earlier training lessons – not because you puppy has forgotten but because you will need to reinforce to him that he must obey you – however, use reward-based methods to gain his compliance and keep training sessions fun. Finally, try to keep a sense of humour – if you hang on and keep doing things right, you will get through and survive!