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Puppy Adolescence: How To Help Your Teenage Puppy

Puppy Adolescence: How To Help Your Teenage Puppy

It doesn’t seem that long ago that your little puppy was practically just a baby, eager to explore the world and curious about anything and everything. Still having accidents in the house and napping most of the day, your puppy has certainly grown a lot since!

As your puppy begins to get bigger and mature, you may notice some changes in his behaviour.  After mastering toilet training, walking on a leash and a good recall, it can be easy to think the hardest parts are over-and all of a sudden your little puppy hits adolescence and becomes a troublesome teen!

At around 6 months of age, your puppy becomes a ‘teenager.’ Many dog parents fail to anticipate this stage as they believe their dog will immediately transition from puppy to adult, but just like their human counterparts, puppies do indeed have ‘teenage years.’ Some may experience behavioural issues, some may develop anxiety issues, and some may remain steady and sail through the puppy adolescence stage.

No matter what you think your puppy will experience, it’s important to be prepared and stay patient, as you help your pup navigate through this challenging developmental stage.

What To Expect from a Teenage Puppy

Just like human teenagers, teenage puppies can often be difficult to live with or display disobedience. During the teenage period, there are many different developmental processes at work. Being aware of what they are and what may happen can help you to prepare for what challenges your teenager will throw at you!

1. Ignoring your Call

As your puppy begins to grow independent, he will become less reliant on you and may begin to stop returning when called. No matter how good his recall was before, he may be inclined to wander further from you when you are out on walks, and completely ignore you when you ask him to come back.

If you find your pup is completely ignoring you and not returning when called, it is a good idea to use a long leash when out to give him some freedom to run around, while also still under your control. This is important as a dog with poor recall can find themselves in very dangerous situations, so until he starts to reliably return to you, keep him on a long leash.

For more on recall training your puppy, click here.

adolescent puppy and child owner playing together in a garden

2. Anxiety

Some puppies grow confident and boisterous, while others grow to be fearful and anxious. This fear period is the second they’ve experienced in their lives (the first being when they were very young puppies). They may get scared about things they hadn’t before, such as new people, dogs or other animals, unfamiliar objects or places.

This can be a delicate period for your puppy, and it’s important to be cautious and try and avoid any stressful situations, such as a visit to the kennels or a busy park. Try keep things safe and predictable to help ease your pup’s anxiety. One bad experience could have a lasting effect on your dog.

This anxiety could last anywhere between a couple of days and a few weeks. No matter how your dog reacts to a situation that is giving him anxiety, never give out or scold him; it’s important to give him time to process what spooked him.

Socialising your puppy is incredibly important, as a puppy who doesn’t socialise with other dogs may find the world a scary and intimidating place and will likely grow up to be worried and anxious. Never force your dog into a situation they might find stressful, but do keep a comfortable distance when around other dogs, and let them explore in their own time. Always keep any interactions positive and make sure to keep treats handy as a reward.

Little puppies Golden retriever, running around, playing in the summer park

3. Behaviour Around Other Dogs

As mentioned above, socialising is so important for your puppy’s mental wellbeing, and as they grow older they may become more interested in playing and interacting with other dogs, which is perfectly natural.

Adolescent dogs however can become more boisterous or even aggressive around other dogs. As soon as you see your pup acting aggressive, or even be on the receiving end of the aggression from another dog, it’s critical to remove him from the situation. One bad experience can have a lasting effect on a young dog and even cause anxiety issues in adulthood.

Always try and channel your dog’s instinct to play with toys and games. This will help him keep focus on you and not other dogs. Begin in a place with few distractions initially, such as at home, and gradually build up the distractions around you until your dog can reliably keep focus on you.

4. Chewing Stage

If the moody teenage stage wasn’t enough to deal with, your puppy’s adult teeth will start to develop at around six months of age. They will need to set properly in the gums, therefore giving your puppy those intense chewing urges. To save your furniture getting destroyed or little mouths nipping at your toes, it’s essential you find alternative ways to satisfy their chewing impulses, such as chew toys.

Top Tips for Dealing with Puppy Adolescence

  • Never get angry or scold your teenage puppy-they are going through a challenging time in their life, and will need your support and guidance
  • Continue all training sessions (recall, leash, focus etc) with your dog, and stay patient with your pup, even if it seems they’ve forgotten everything you taught them before. They just need a little reminder!
  • Only socialise with friendly dogs, and keep every interaction positive.
  • Be prepared for them to be slightly more anxious or fearful than before-they starting to grow and explore the world more, and are reassessing everything they see with adult eyes.
  • Puppy Adolescence doesn’t last forever! With some patience and a lot of love and understanding, your pup will return to his regular behaviour in no time.
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