2018-05-11 / Front Page / Pets

Dog owners can survive their canine teenagers

By Phyllis Beasley, CPDT-KA Owner/Lead Trainer, Praise Dog! Training, LLC www.praiseyourdogtraining.com


Ryan Dawkins’s adolescent Great Pyrenees Louie is discovering a whole new world now that he is tall enough to reach it. Ryan Dawkins’s adolescent Great Pyrenees Louie is discovering a whole new world now that he is tall enough to reach it. One day your fluffy little puppy is sleeping or looking at you with adoring eyes and following you everywhere you go. The next thing you know your little puppy angel has become a chewing, jumping, mouthing, distracted whirl ing dervish… a doggy teenager! What happened?

Adolescence happened, a perfectly normal phase of dog development. Adolescence begins about the time your puppy’s canine teeth come in. Adolescence can begin as early as four months old. Small dogs may finally begin to grow out of adolescence at around 18 months, but large breeds don’t mature until they are nearly three years old.

Even though adolescence is an extremely challenging time, it is a normal , predictable developmental and physical growth time of change.

Your puppy is waking up to the great big world, feeling stronger and discover ing independence. Hormones begin surging through their bodies. If you’ve ever raised a middle or high school child, you may recognize this transition. This is a time many dogs end up in a shelter because their owners were unable or unwilling to persist through this transitional period.


Adolescent dogs often pester their older “siblings,” but here six-month-old Griff calmly sits on his nine year old brother, both owned by Alan Ream. Adolescent dogs often pester their older “siblings,” but here six-month-old Griff calmly sits on his nine year old brother, both owned by Alan Ream. Here are some survival tips. First , keep repeating to yourself, “I will survive this,—I will survive this,—I will survive this.”

If you took your puppy to training before, continue it now. If you have not yet begun formal positive training for your dog, start immediately.

Now that the world has opened up for your dog, the sights, smells, and sounds will distract him from responding to the cues he used to respond to immediately.


Mary Williams, who owns Golden Retrievers, has photographic evidence that sometimes adolescent dogs do slow down. Mary Williams, who owns Golden Retrievers, has photographic evidence that sometimes adolescent dogs do slow down. This is a good time to experiment with new, more motivating treats or toys that are irresistible to him to use as training rewards. Train through adolescence.

This is not the time to test his off-leash reliability, but do not be tempted to resort to heavy physical punishment or aversive training, even though you are frustrated. Consider the long-term effects of these methods of training on your relationship with your dog.

You can be a motivator and a reward for your dog. Spend time playing with him. As an adolescent, your dog has energy to burn and will welcome lots of playtime with you. With all the energy your dog has now, walks are not enough exercise for him. Vigorous games of ball fetching and running in the yard provide better physical outlets. There is an old adage that you hear trainers repeat, “A tired dog is a good dog.” This is especially true for adolescents.


Adolescents have energy to spare. Up, owned by Hannah Bauchat, is pumped up and ready for more play. Adolescents have energy to spare. Up, owned by Hannah Bauchat, is pumped up and ready for more play. Provide plenty of exercise for your dog, but also provide down time for him. Avoid revving him up continually with overstimulating activity. Teach your adolescent how to settle on a mat and reward him with calm praise and gentle stroking when you catch him in a quiet moment. Work on impulse control exercises such as stays and the Leave It cue.

When Fido was a puppy, you probably spent lots of time socializing him around people and other dogs. Continue this through adolescence. Dogs go through phases during adolescence called fear periods.

Your formally confident puppy may suddenly react badly to the appearance of new people or strange dogs. There is no specific time for these fear periods, but some speculate this behavior change may happen around a spurt in growth. Pair the things that scare your dog with things he loves such as toys or treats.


When Raine, an adolescent Vizsla owned by Damon and Kat Little, grew tall enough, she learned to get her own ice cubes from the refrigerator When Raine, an adolescent Vizsla owned by Damon and Kat Little, grew tall enough, she learned to get her own ice cubes from the refrigerator Just when you thought your pup had finished excessive chewing and gotten his adult teeth in, he will go through another teething period at around 16 to 24 weeks. His molars begin to come through, and he will chew with renewed vigor. Provide plenty of healthy chew toys and put up objects you don’t want him to chew.

Adolescence is also a time when your dog discovers he is large enough to reach things he couldn’t reach before. This is when he can reach food or other items on your counters (“counter sur fing”) begins and when he can reach high enough ( if you own a large dog) to knock objects off shelves.

For information on training your dog not to counter surf, review the article called “Counter sur fing, the sport of canines” in the January 13, 2017, issue of The Columbia Star.

And, if you are the owner of an adolescent dog and need to commiserate, just email me. I am the bedraggled owner of an almost eight- month- old German Shepherd Dog puppy!

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