Much like human pre-teens and teens, adolescence in dogs can be a challenging time. 

Like a teenager, in fact, you may notice your dog expressing themselves in ways you don’t always appreciate, such as ignoring commands, wanting to roam, etc. This age – when your pet is 6 months or so – is prime time for reinforcing good behavior, especially if you don’t want the “bad” behaviors to stick.

Your friends at Animal Family Veterinary Care Center are here with suggestions for you and your adolescent puppy. We can help explain what to expect during the terrible teens to make them terrific for you and your bestie. 

When Is Your Puppy an Adolescent?

There is no one single answer for when a pet becomes an adolescent because much of it is based on breed, size, etc. Typically, we assume a pet is an adolescent once they reach the age of 6 months and this developmental phase can continue through age 18 months (in very large breeds).

Interestingly, your puppy, during this time, will begin to challenge you as they become more independent. This probably sounds familiar if you have ever dealt with a teenage human. 

Here are some key signs that your fur-baby is entering their “teens”:

  • Not following commands they used to follow
  • Pushing boundaries and rules in the home
  • Wanting to be alone more
  • Attempts to escape the yard
  • Walking ahead, pushing ahead
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Almost done with teething
  • Territorial spraying or marking

Oh no, I think my pet is a teenager! Now what!?!

Dealing with Behavioral Challenges

Much of your pet’s unfortunate stubbornness is based on hormonal/biological changes, rather than them just behaving badly. 

Obviously, if your pet is being difficult with basic commands, it can not only be frustrating for you but it is unsafe for them. There are some easy techniques to employ during the adolescent puppy phase. 

  1. Focus on socialization and training. Even if you have house trained your pet, this is a critical time to reinforce what they have learned by starting with basic commands like “sit” and “stay” and rewarding them for their good response. Socialization during this time is important to raising a well behaved puppy. Discuss with us some safe ways to socialize your pet, while being mindful of social distancing guidelines during COVID-19.
  1. Introduce other dogs that are vaccinated and trained to your puppy. Other dogs who practice good behavior are excellent doggie mentors for your growing puppy. Ask friends, neighbors, or relatives who have dogs if you can have them over to play with your puppy.
  2. Make sure your pet is spayed or neutered. Many bad behaviors are linked to sexually intact males and females. This lack of altering can cause a pet to spray/mark, try to get out, and act more aggressively in some cases.
  3. Give your pet a little space that is secure and safe. If your pet wants to go outside without you, that’s okay. Just ensure that the gates and fencing are without any holes or places where your pet can wiggle out. Consider off leash training for your puppy and practice off leash skills at big dog parks and similar natural areas.
  4. Be patient and loving. This is a confusing time for your puppy, too. They, like all dogs, just want to please you. If the behavioral problems increase, consult us and we can provide some help for these tough changes.

You and Your Adolescent Puppy

We know the road to dog adulthood can be bumpy, but it can be a time of greater bonding and fun as well. If you have any questions, or would like to schedule an appointment, please contact us. Enjoy this meaningful time with your paw friend!