In dogs, adolescence can begin at 4 to 8 months of age and end at 12 to 24 months of age, depending on the breed. This is a difficult period during which hormonal changes lead to turmoil in the dog. Difficult to manage and especially exhausting for the master, who often has a feeling of moving backwards, this is a temporary period, but during which it is necessary to know how to act in order to prevent bad habits from taking root. How is adolescence characterized in dogs? How to manage crises? Let’s look at this case.
Adolescence in dogs: what is this period? What are the signs?
Depending on the breed and especially the size of the dog, entry into adolescence occurs at different ages. For small dogs, adolescence begins between 4 and 5 months and between 6 and 7 months for medium breeds and ends at about 12 months of age. In large dogs, adolescence begins between 7 and 8 months and ends around 18 or even 24 months. In females, this period often coincides with the female’s first estrus.
At this stage, the dog adopts behavior that may confuse the owner. Very excited and excited, the young dog is passionate about what surrounds him, loves to observe and discover everything with overflowing curiosity. Adolescence encourages the calmest dogs to be interested in everything that moves, everything new. Overflowing with new energy, he seems to be in regression to the point where he even urinates in the house too often and no longer listens to his master. Please note that small dogs show even more arousal than their medium and large counterparts.
How to explain the change in the behavior of a teenage dog?
As in adolescents, hormones are partly involved in these changes. Adolescence brings about profound physiological and psychological changes that can cause new anxieties and fears or greater self-confidence, which can lead to more or less intense and multiple crises. These hormonal changes can be very disturbing for a dog that is unable to manage and control this behavior.
Admittedly, such behavior, which may seem unusual or embarrassing to us, is very often difficult to cope with the owner, who feels overwhelmed by the change in attitude of his little companion. However, it is important to welcome this phenomenon as we would welcome a human teenager, from a perspective that allows us to respond with enough benevolence, consistency, and patience to establish more balanced communication and education in the home.
When faced with “nonsense”, running away, repetitive barking, destructive behavior, refusal to obey or obey, and other sudden changes in the behavior of your previously so obedient young dog, you will have to be patient. Admittedly, this is a painful moment, but rest assured, it will pass!
Adolescence in dogs: how to deal with the crisis?
While you will need to be patient, you can also adopt new temporary habits to better deal with your dog’s teenage crises.
Hold fast !
Faced with the confusing attitude of your four-legged teen, you’ll have to hold on so you don’t give up! Do not let go, because you must maintain your power over your animal. Continue to be in the lead of contacts, caresses, food, play sessions, etc. You, too, must end it with a positive.
Keep calm and take a step back
If your dog doesn’t listen to you, don’t be angry. You must make sure to adapt your behavior according to him by observing your animal to understand the reasons why he does not listen to you.
Much like a human teenager, your dog will be eager to test boundaries and, in particular, to see your reaction if he doesn’t listen to you. Feel free to be firmer, step into a less stimulating space for play and learning, or choose a more stimulating technique to achieve your goals.
I repeat, I repeat, I repeat, I repeat!
If necessary, feel free to start from scratch and relearn the basics with your teenage dog. Sometimes it is necessary to take on some of the basics that have previously been well learned. Be firm and hold on tight so you don’t give up. This period is temporary.but your dog can develop bad habits if you don’t set rules. Even if you have to be patient, it’s also important to act in a way that doesn’t indulge bad behavior that would only lead to its reinforcement.
Do not forget that the skills that you have taught your dog with more or less difficulty are not lost. On the other hand, do not relax your efforts to prevent the pet from developing bad habits.
Entertain your dog
At this age, your dog is full of energy and needs new stimulation. Right now start a new sport activity with your pet. It is important to stimulate your dog physically, mentally, and olfactorily for at least 30 minutes each day, by varying degrees of freedom and space or environment.
This is a good way to meet your dog’s new needs and channel his energy at the same time.
Think about communication
It is important to continue to socialize the animal, allowing him to contact with his relatives. At this age, he needs positive encounters to keep his good habits up and not lose his dog codes. Desocialization is possible if you are not careful.
If your dog is a bit of a fighter, feel free to consider neutering with your veterinarian to limit the risks.
Keep your referral role
Like the human adolescent, the canine adolescent is emancipated and seeks a certain amount of autonomy. However, you must remain the referent of your animal. Remain in control and be his guide, because after all, this is when your animal needs you the most, your support, and the security you bring him.
Take Some Precautions
Be careful not to leave objects within your dog’s reach that he could shred in your absence. As soon as you leave, remove your child’s shoes, pillows, toys, blankets, etc. so that he does not find them.
Seek help from experts
Feel free to contact your veterinarian as soon as your dog shows the first signs of adolescence or if you feel overwhelmed. He can advise you on what to do or even refer you to a behavioral veterinarian if needed.
Adolescence in dogs: the importance of social contact
It is important that your teenage dog maintains social contact with his peers. At this critical age, the canine teen changes how he interacts with others, but also how others perceive him. A teenage dog can no longer communicate like a puppy, he must learn to do it like an adult dog, not being ready for this and not knowing how to do it.
Then the animal becomes more impulsive, more obsessive, more agitated, which can very quickly annoy a calmer adult dog. The latter may then firmly push away the persistent young animal, or even show aggression to encourage it to stay where it is.
Maintaining a positive socialization experience will allow the dog to learn to communicate with his relatives and adopt more advanced methods of communication.
Indeed, if you are not careful, your dog can become desocialized. The aggressive reaction of other dogs to his attacks can isolate him if you do not maintain contact and allow him to continue his efforts.
However, be careful to set up a positive interaction. Avoid negative experiences in closed environments or with aggressive, unsociable or aggressive dogs to elicit an appropriate response and establish successful socialization. Walking outdoors, with a small group of famous dogs, or even activities such as agility and other dog sports can help build a social structure that encourages good communication.