You’ve made it through the puppy phase and you are now entering the teenage months. A dog’s adolescence can be anywhere between the ages of 8 months and 2 years old. During this time, you may notice some changes in your pup’s behaviour and physique. Just like teens, puppies go through a transitioning period that affects the way they act and look. You may notice your puppy becoming bigger, more stubborn, and even at times, confused. This is a critical time to put your puppy training to the test. Find out what to expect during your puppy’s adolescence.
Your Teenage Puppy: What to Expect
Your puppy will go through hormonal changes, similar to what you went through as a teen. You may notice mood swings and stubbornness during this period. They’re just being a teen! Just because your pup is an adolescent now, it does not mean that it is time to stop training and correcting behaviour. Your once obedient pup may now be ignoring you when called, becoming more aggressive and trying to run away to explore on their own. Common characteristics of a teenage puppy include increased independence, forgetfulness or confusion and destruction. Do not be alarmed if your puppy isn’t performing basic commands while also destroying your backyard with potholes and leaving bite marks in your favourite shoes.
Your pup will also try testing boundaries with other dogs and people during this time, so make sure you are on high alert around others and their pets. Always correct improper behaviour and positively reinforce proper behaviour. They are going through a lot of changes, so it is best to be especially patient and understanding during this time. Your loving star pupil will come around in no time!
You may also notice your dog having random spurts of energy which we like to call the “zoomies”. Don’t worry about these, they are just a sign that you have a happy pup! This period is a great time to build a stronger bond with your pup and get to know their personality.
Lastly, it’s important to note that your dog is also experiencing sexual maturity during this time. This means that females can experience their first heat cycle (estrus) and males will become more interested in their female four-legged friends. By now, your male dog has probably also started lifting his leg when marking his territory and mounting other dogs or people. You may want to start thinking about consulting your vet about the right time to spay or neuter your dog.
One of the most noticeable changes you will see is their growth and muscle development. Likewise, you’ll notice that their puppy fur has fallen out to make room for their adult coat. Be prepared for lots of brushing and vacuuming if your breed of dog sheds. The same goes for their puppy teeth which have now been replaced with some adult chompers. You should also expect your dog to be close to reaching their adult weight. You may also notice a more rigid posture and no more floppy puppy movements.
You’ll notice that your dog has a lot more energy than they once had as a sleepy puppy. You’ll want to make sure your dog gets enough physical exercise. However, your dog’s skeletal structure is not completely developed yet so you’ll want to avoid any extreme activity that may hinder their joints. Therefore, any activity that requires sudden turns, jumps and stops should be avoided until they’ve reached adulthood, which can vary depending on the breed of your dog.
What You Can do to Make Adolescence More Bearable
Keep them busy! The best thing to do during this period is to keep them both physically and mentally stimulated. For mental stimulation, opt for bones or interactive toys. Training is also a great way to tire out your pup mentally. As for exercise, make sure they are getting at least two walks a day. Think of it this way, the more tired they are, the less they are likely to cause a ruckus.
You’ll also want to make sure that you are continuously correcting and rewarding behaviours so that only the positive ones are carried over into adulthood. They are no longer puppies, but they definitely still need their training!
Another important point is to make sure your dog is properly socialized during this period. Your dog should be exposed to new places, people and other dogs quite frequently. Socialization is super healthy for your dog and a critical component of their proper development. Make sure to make these interactions a positive experience for your pooch so they don’t become afraid of socializing and will help your pup build their confidence.
Now that you’ve got all these tips and tricks, you’re ready to successfully survive puppy adolescence!
Enjoy your teen pup, they will be an adult in no time!