You've probably realised that puppies are hard work and just as we begin to feel like we're cracking it and doing well with our cute puppy, we are suddenly hit by adolescence - we have a four-legged teenager on our hands!
Every dog teenager will go through this phase differently (just like humans), some will be more challenging whereas others will sail through. During this developmental stage you will need lots of patience and support for your dog. This phase can start anywhere from 5-7 months and depending on the breed/individual will end around 1.5-2.5 years old!
So, what can we expect during this adolescent phase?
- One common thing is a bouncy, over-excited and enthusiastic dog who is full of beans - often much bigger than they were a few months ago. This can be a challenge in itself if they like to jump up or pull!
- It's VERY common for teenage dogs to not come back when called, even if their recall was perfect as a young puppy. The best way to tackle this is to prevent situations where they can choose to ignore you, simply by keeping your dog on a longline when on walks and/or around distractons, so they can't get it wrong!
- Often teenage dogs, driven by hormones, become more interested in interacting and playing with other dogs. This stage is crucial for practising and developing good manners, so again manage interactions, arrange pre-planned meetings with dogs who are a good match and likely to provide a good influence.
- Your teenage dog may seem to 'forget' cues they used to know well. They aren't being stubborn or awkward, they are simply developing and distracted - keep reinforcing these cues at times you can ensure success.
- It's also common to experience another fear period - where they become uncertain of things they were previous ok with. It could be something really silly like rubbish bags or men in hats and they might bark/growl. Just like when they were a young puppy, show them these things are nothing to worry about.
During this challenging phase, we often consider neutering/spaying to help 'calm down' our bouncy teenager, however this isn't the always the answer to your troubles, unless the behaviour is due to sexual drive (FYI not all 'humping' is sexual). Do lots of research before considering neutering to ensure it's the right decision for your dog.