Yes, Dogs Go Through A Teenage Phase!

For most human teens, life can be full of emotional ups and downs. According to a study conducted by a team of UK researchers from the universities of Newcastle, Edinburgh and Nottingham, dogs go through a similar phase at around eight months of age.

The researchers looked at a relatively large sample of 354 dogs, including golden retrievers, German shepherds, labrador retrievers and mixed breeds and analyzed their behavior. They looked at the dogs behavior prior to adolescence and analyzed how obedient the dogs were then reassessed behavior at five month, during adolescence and when they reached eight months of age.

The results?

Dogs were more difficult to train as they were going through puberty. During this time they were quite likely to simply ignore commands from their owners. But here’s what really stands out in this study: this behavior was more likely to be pronounced in the dogs who had an insecure relationship with their owners.

The takeaway?

If you have a dog and he’s going through this adolescent stage, it’s really important not to punish him for disobeying you. And don’t withdraw yourself emotionally from him at this time either or you will likely make the problem behavior worse, just as this would worsen unruly behavior in a human teenager.

The researchers warn that adolescent dogs who are going through this phase are more likely to be re-homed, as their owners can’t control them and they are no longer the sweet cuddly puppy they once were. The important thing to keep in mind is, just like in humans, they will soon outgrow this phase.

Patience and loving attention will help to reassure your dog that you are still there for him, even when he’s feeling a little wild. 

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By Ellen Britt

Dr. Ellen Britt has loved dogs since she was a child. She is particularly fond of the Northern breeds, especially Alaskan Malamutes. Ellen worked as a PA in Emergency and Occupational Medicine for two decades and holds a doctorate (Ed.D.) in biology.

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