If you find yourself with a 6-18 month old puppy who seems to be regressing in housebreaking and behavior, it’s not your imagination. Did you know that dogs are “teenagers” for a period of time, just like humans? During this time, depending on breed, (larger breeds tend to have longer and later periods of adolescence), you might find your previously well-behaved pet exhibiting frustrating behaviors like chewing inappropriate items, eliminating indoors, and digging.
Adolescent dogs are the age group most likely to find themselves surrendered to a rescue or shelter due to behavior. We know that puppies are SO cute, but they are a major time commitment. If the trials of puppyhood and adolescence seem daunting, consider adopting a more mature dog – they need homes, too, and make lovely companions!
How to make it through the “teenage months”
Spaying or neutering as early as possible can ward off some unpleasant side effects of adolescence, like urine marking in both sexes, aggression among other dogs, a complete lack of attention span, and tendency to try to dig under fences and wander. The benefits of spaying and neutering are huge and we could spend an entire blog on that alone, but talk to your vet if you are on the fence about it. We recommend it with two thumbs up!
Tire a pup out! A tired pet is a well-behaved pet. Exercising a pet’s mind and body is crucial to their well-being. Different breeds require different amounts of physical exercise. Puzzle toys are great to keep pets occupied during the day and/or while you are working. Walks are important, as well as off-leash play when it’s safe / fenced. If you don’t think you are able to provide your dog enough exercise, consider a dog walker, or doggie day care. Or, try asking around to see if a neighbor has a dog that would love to be best friends and have regular play dates!
Go back to basics. Retraining your dog to help them remember the rules through their hormone fog can be necessary to remind them of how you expect them to behave. Remember to use positive reinforcement with plenty of treats and play! Crate training can help ward off destruction when you are not able to supervise them. If all else fails, an experienced dog trainer can help you get through the teenage months.
If you have any further questions, please feel free to ask us in store. See you soon!