The transition from being a puppy to an adult occurs during adolescence. In canines, it may begin at any point between six and twelve months, and it may last for 18 to 24 months. Significant hormonal changes and a restructuring of the brain occur at this time.
Do dogs go through a rebellious stage?
Teenage dogs may appear less obedient due to these hormonal changes. What’s really going on, though, is that they’re becoming more and more driven to explore, engage, and run, as well as more and more compelled to engage with their surroundings and the people who inhabit them.
Adolescent canines possess the enthusiasm and drive to do more, much like teenagers do in people. More playtime, more time spent exploring, more time spent interacting with their pals (both human and non-human! ), but they lack the knowledge and experience needed to consider and control their actions and reactions.
Even in instances when they were previously ‘obedient’ and responded right away, teenage dogs might easily get into conflict when they’re requested to stop doing something, or simply to quiet down, due to their increased energy and sociability.
Sadly, instead of realizing that their dog is struggling to manage their desires, owners frequently mistake this type of development as the dog being stubborn or trying to demonstrate their dominance.
Dog adolescence can cause frustration
Depending on their temperament (or personality), some dogs could get upset when they don’t get what they want. Because anger is a negative emotion, it can lead to behaviors that are motivated by anger. These undesirable behaviors include persistent barking, leaping up, clawing, nipping, chewing the lead, and even violence.
Therefore, it is not unexpected that many dog owners report significant behavioral changes. Sadly, puberty is a time when some puppies may need to be placed in a new home. The good news is that this era of bad behavior does pass, and we’ve compiled some best advice to support you as you navigate this challenging “teenage” phase.
When do dogs become the most challenging?
Depending on the breed, dogs frequently go through their adolescent years for two to three years. The majority of specialists concur that between the ages of 8 months and around 18 months is the most difficult period.
What transpires throughout the adolescent years in dogs?
Raising children throughout their adolescent phase is a challenging endeavor, as any parent of teenagers will attest. This is because of the know-it-all attitude, the uncanny capacity to ignore requests, and the sudden desire to be somewhere other than with family. However, even if you have never reared a person, it’s possible that you have come across these characteristics in the family dogs.
You’re not alone if your dog has suddenly stopped listening to the sit or come commands they learned as puppies. Dogs definitely go through a rebellious adolescent phase, according to new research from a group of UK universities, and they may be just as stubborn as human teenagers as they manage changing hormones and push for a little independence.
Dogs’ awkward adolescence
When the canines were five months old and again at eight months old, the researchers recorded their behavior. German shepherds, golden retrievers, Labrador retrievers, and combinations of these breeds were among the canines. Researchers came to the conclusion that the older dogs were persistently refusing to sit rather than not knowing how to since they were twice as likely to disobey sit cues when provided by their caregivers. The shocking part is that the dogs continued to obey the identical command from a stranger.
Sounds recognizable? According to Dr. Naomi Harvey, a zoologist who participated in the study, “We have been able to demonstrate for the first time that dogs showed increased conflict behavior, typified by a reduction in compliance, throughout puberty. Importantly, the dog’s behavior only changes when they are around their carer. Similar findings were obtained when the researchers analyzed data from 285 guide dog owners. They discovered that both younger and older dogs appear to be more trainable than teenage canines.
According to Harvey, who spoke to the BBC, “the hormonal changes and the remodeling of the brain to become an adult brain generate a lot of problems. And, tragically, the conduct that follows might have negative effects on the dog, whose owner might not be aware that their animals may just be going through a trying time. In the United States, this age group is the most likely to wind up in shelters.
According to Amanda Gagnon, an anthropozoologist, dog training and behavior consultant, and founder and head trainer at Amanda Gagnon Dog Training in New York, “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. We were all teenagers once; this is a period when you desire to test your limits, grow more independent, and distance yourself from your parents. And our pets can exhibit some behaviors that are similar to these.
Dog puberty can begin as early as five months of life, and teenage traits may last until the animal is at least one and a half years old, according to Gagnon (or longer). Increased energy levels, a greater interest in and curiosity about their environment, and disruptive actions like chewing or barking to obtain what they want are some signs that your dog is entering puberty. The biggest clue, she continues, is probably not listening to you. It’s only that they now have conflicting interests. Your dog hasn’t forgotten their commands.
Living with a teen dog
The breed of your dog will also have an impact on how long your dog spends in his or her adolescent years, according to Anthony De Marinis, a dog behavior expert, animal trainer, and proprietor of De Marinis Dog Training and Behavior. According to him, some dogs may appear a little “moody” before they turn three years old. So, what are pet owners supposed to do in light of this?
Simply being aware that this is a phase and not a permanent regression or an indication of a “bad dog” is a crucial first step for owners. Of course, early and consistent training is a significant additional role. ” The most crucial thing you can do for your dog is to train them, and this should start as soon as possible after birth, ideally at around eight weeks. Your dog is at that point in their life when they are most impressionable, according to De Marinis. The good news is that getting a dog back on track when they are teenagers won’t be as challenging if pet owners are consistent and dedicated about training and properly socializing their dog. ” According to him, when things do start to go south, pet owners should return to their toolbox, concentrate on fundamental training, and encourage positive behavior.
Gagnon advises owners to make every effort to reduce their dog’s propensity for destructive activity. That entails giving your dog more opportunities for physical and mental stimulation, like lots of exercise, preferably earlier in the day, she explains. Using puzzle toys, which can be filled with goodies or even their regular food, is another method to keep your dog busy (and out of trouble).
Above all, remember that your dog hasn’t forgotten anything; they may just not be as concentrated right now, according to Gagnon.
Imagine that you are attempting to instruct a student in the second or third grade. Give your dog some time and patience while continuing to hold consistent training sessions with varied levels of distraction.
Do dogs ever exhibit rebellious behavior?
If you’re gone for 12 hours a day and all your dog gets out of a walk is a fast dash into the backyard, you’re not giving him enough chances to burn off all his excess energy. The surplus will instead be used to chew up your shoes, steal your food, or scratch your walls. A tired dog is a nice dog, as the proverb says.
2. You haven’t given him enough training.
It may seem obvious, but you need to step up your game if your dog’s training halted after he learned to sit, lie down, and use the restroom outside. Also, don’t believe the myth that an old dog can learn new tricks. Aim to teach him a new command each week and go through existing ones with him. Along with him being able to comprehend what you want him to do, the mental effort required for him to learn commands will wear him out.
3. You’re encouraging his improper conduct:
How do you react if your dog is barking to get your attention? Do you order him to stop yelling? What’s this? You simply granted him his request. Or do you yell at him and then watch helplessly as he eats a hot dog roll he stole from the counter? You’re letting him know one more that his misbehavior was successful. When your dog misbehaves, consider what he’s attempting to achieve and refrain from rewarding him. Give him a chance to succeed instead (for example, tell the begging dog to go to his place and lie down, and give him a treat when he does).
4. You don’t know what breed your dog is:
This is related to number one. You might believe you’ve met the criteria for exercise if you have a Border Collie who terrorizes your house but you walk him every morning and night, am I right? Wrong. For a breed like a Greyhound or Labrador Retriever, a twice-daily walk could be sufficient, but Border Collies were bred to work and want opportunities to run and “perform a job.” However, sports like agility provide the kind of structure and training this breed need (and you can earn titles and ribbons in the process!). A quick game of fetch should do the trick.
5. You’re interacting with a teenager:
Okay, so you’re not necessarily at blame for this one, but how you handle it can affect how your dog behaves. Like people, dogs experience a “teenager phase” of disobedience (around 5 months to 18 months). They frequently challenge their owners during this period to see what they can get away with. Setting boundaries will be made easier by being firm and consistent with your instruction. Be patient as well! They will outgrow it.
Get your dog engaged in Canine Good Citizen, which will make him a better-mannered dog and you a more responsible dog owner, since this is a fantastic method to start teaching him better conduct!
How should young dogs be handled?
It’s crucial to maintain your composure and avoid punishing your dog in any manner because doing so will only decrease their desire to approach you. Instead, go back to the fundamentals when it comes to your training cues and add lots of rewards. Don’t allow your dog to develop the bad recall habit of running away. For a few weeks, this entails utilizing a long-line so that your dog may still run, sniff, and explore without being free to ignore you or flee into the distance. By doing this, you’ll cut down on this flight time and resume your training very quickly.
What is the naughtiest age for puppies?
At this young age, your puppy is in a crucial learning phase. Many dog owners make the mistake of assuming that their puppies’ temperaments would be determined by their breed or genetic makeup. This is definitely not the case! The reality is that raising a sociable, well-behaved, and trouble-free adult dog requires patience, hard work, and active engagement from every member of the household.
Unwanted behaviors including barking, chewing, surfing the counter, house-soiling, and leaping up frequently start to happen at roughly 3 to 6 months of age. These behaviors will not change as your dog gets older. On the contrary, if these behaviors are not addressed right away, they are more likely to get worse.
Behavior issues are a serious concern for animal welfare because they are the main reason that pets are surrendered to shelters or put to death.
Early intervention is the key to treating harmful behaviors. The majority of puppy behaviors that we consider to be “inappropriate” (such as digging, chewing, and jumping up) are actually quite common canine behaviors that puppies must exhibit if they are not trained otherwise.
Period of sensitive socialization:
Puppies are ready to learn about their social environment between the ages of 3 and 16 weeks. The “sensitive socialization stage” is what this is known as. Puppies are considerably more likely to grow into timid, anxious, and poorly-adjusted adult dogs who may be scared, aggressive, or destructive if they do not receive enough exposure, training, and supervision during this time.
Did you know? Most owners wait until their puppy is at least 16 weeks old before bringing him or her outside. This is the same as keeping a youngster in social isolation until they are 7 years old!
Puppies need frequent, pleasant exposure to any social circumstances they will need to tolerate as adults during this critical stage of development. Consider socializing your puppy with people, other dogs of all shapes and sizes, other animals (cats, rabbits, horses, etc.), other environments (the vet, the groomer, the car, the bath), various noises, as well as people, including men, women, and children. It is essential that your dog have favorable experiences that don’t overwhelm them. Never drive kids into difficult circumstances; instead, reward them when they explore these new ones on their own.
Avoid locations deemed to be “high risk” for parvovirus prior to your puppy’s final vaccine at 14–16 weeks of age. This includes any places with a lot of dog activity where a virus could survive in the setting. Dog parks, grassy fields, and the seaside are a few examples. You can socialize your puppy in “low risk” places like your friends’ homes, the pavement or asphalt, or areas with exposed concrete. You can bring little puppies along with you when you go shopping. Your puppy may benefit from taking enjoyable road excursions to get out of the house.
Practice makes perfect, just like with all other forms of learning. Give your puppy as many opportunities for socialization as you can to help them develop their social abilities. This does not only hold true throughout the socialization phase. To preserve these social skills throughout life, it’s critical that your puppy continues to get favorable exposure to a variety of humans and animals.
During their socialization phase, pups have a fantastic opportunity to regularly interact with a variety of people and dogs at puppy preschool. Puppy school offers owners the chance to better understand their dogs and vice versa, fostering the development of a trusting and happy relationship.
Positive techniques of instruction
Positive reinforcement is the most effective method for encouraging positive behaviors in your puppy. Giving your puppy a reward for actions you approve of and ignoring or redirecting undesirable actions is known as positive reinforcement. For further information on how to use positive reinforcement tactics, refer to the resources at the conclusion of the handout.
It is also crucial to refrain from employing punishment in order to raise a puppy who is self-assured, content, and well-behaved. Anything meant to frighten or intimidate your puppy qualifies as punishment, including severe reprimands or corporal punishment. These techniques have been demonstrated to be inefficient at stopping a behavior from recurring over the long run, even though they may appear to do so in the short term. Punishment will also deteriorate your bond with your dog. It has been demonstrated that dogs trained using punishment exhibit substantially higher rates of aggression and anxiety issues than dogs trained using positive reinforcement.
The most effective method for modifying your puppy’s behavior is crate training. It entails teaching the puppy to relish spending time in a crate or playpen when not being closely watched. This limits their access to rooms in the house where they might be tempted to indulge in “unwanted behaviors” like chewing or house soiling.
You can confine your puppy in a play pen, run, or room that has been puppy-proofed as an alternative to a crate.
the use of pheromones
Animals create molecules called pheromones that play a key role in regulating social behavior. A synthetic dog-calming pheromone is present in the veterinary medication Adaptil. The female dog releases this scent as her puppies breastfeed. It has been demonstrated to aid puppies in acclimating to new situations and is thought to have a calming impact on dogs. As soon as your puppy reaches their new residence, we advise having them put on an Adaptil collar.
Like people, dogs can experience mental health issues. Some may show quite early on in life. Red flags that your puppy could require assistance with their social development include the following:
- excessive apprehension in the presence of strangers, loud noises, or novel surroundings. Cowardice, concealment, and symptoms of stress are some indicators (pacing, panting, yawning and lip licking)
- aggressive actions such as lunging, growling, snapping, biting, or approaching people or other dogs
- Compulsive behaviors like tail-chasing or shadow-chasing
- separation anxiety (destruction, howling, barking and house soiling when left alone)
- “American College of Veterinary Behaviorists, 2015, Decoding Your Dog: Explaining Common Dog Behaviors and How to Prevent or Change Unwanted Ones, edited by DF, Horowitz, J Ciribassi & S Dale. This is available at the front desk for $25.
- “By Sophia A. Yin, “Perfect Puppy in 7 Days: How to Start Your Puppy Off Right”