Dog Adolescence: dogs go through teen age years just as kids do. If your dog appears to suddenly have forgotten his commands, is reluctant to obey and becomes a bully he may be going through this difficult phase.
Just as teens dogs may be testing their limits. For this reason it is crucial that owners remain consistent in their training or even go back to basics to remind the dog that its owner is still in charge. As frustrating as it can be, owners must try hard to remain patient and accept this challenging phase.
If owners think that puppy hood along with house training, obedience training and teething was challenging, the teen age phase may really test their limits. It is a true and sad fact that most dogs surrendered at shelters, occur when dogs touch their adolescent age. The average peak age appears to be between 9 and 18 months. Typically occurring between 7 months to 12 months in small to medium dogs and later in large breeds, canine adolescence can be surely taking your love for dogs at a test.
Physically, a teen age dog may be reaching sexual maturity. This is evident in dogs that have not been spayed or neutered. Male dogs, with high levels of testosterone may be more prone to bullying other male dogs, urine marking, humping and roaming in search of a soul mate. Females on the other hand, will appear flirty with males, moody and aggressive towards other females, will go into heat and if not pregnant may develop false pregnancies.
Spaying and neutering at this phase may help solve the issues directly related to hormones but unfortunately the testing attitude may still be there. Growing pains and teething can still cast a spell of this already difficult time. In large breed dogs this can be particularly evident and may require veterinarian intervention. As the last permanent molar teeth came in, investing in good chew toys may replace your favorite shoes and your furniture while ensuring your dog’s teeth will be well aligned along the jawbone.
Mentally, dogs at this stage may exhibit selective hearing, meaning they chose when to listen and mostly when it is convenient. They may have an attitude such as:”So, what happens if I decide not to” and may be slow in responding to your commands. Just as kids, dogs require their owner’s guidance. As an owner you must gently remind them that “sit” still means “sit” and that they must behave in the same manner as before.
Some dogs may reverse to puppy hood like behaviors and revert to chewing, mouthing and even having accidents in the house. Their brain seems to shift back to a puppy like state yet, it is entrapped into an almost adult body. A good exercise regimen is vital at this age. A tired dog is a good dog and less likely to cause trouble. Ensure your dog has lots of daily exercise either in the form of long walks, a good game of fetch or running on the sand.
While it is great to know that canine adolescence will ultimately end, it may feel like forever for an owner used to having a puppy that has always listened and did everything to please their owners.
As challenging as this phase is, persistent owners will see the light at the end of the tunnel if they maintain a calm state of mind, show leadership and remain consistent. All the the efforts will ultimately pay off at the end and the dog owner bond will be better once the dog matures into a well stabilized dog with a great temperament and a big will to please its owner.
For further Reading: Loving Dogs as Babies