Today, we’re giving you tips on how to manage your dog as it goes through its teenage years.
Typically, dogs become “adolescents” or “teenagers” at about 6 months old – or whenever they start losing their puppy teeth.
Biologically, this flips a switch in your puppy’s brain. You might notice your dog has more energy, a greater willingness to explore, and a lower willingness to listen to your commands. Hormones and chemicals in your dog’s body are changing. Don’t get frustrated: most dogs go through a “dogzilla” period.
Typically, adolescence starts at around 6 months for small dogs and 9 to 12 months for larger dogs. Expect your dog to act like a teenager until it’s about 18 months or 2 years of age.
Sadly, many newbie dog owners give up their dogs to shelters when they reach this period. However, if you treat your dog properly during the teenage years, you’ll have a loyal companion for the next 10 to 15 years. Please realise that the “honeymoon” puppy months aren’t going to last forever, you can prepare yourself for your dog’s teenage years.
Switch from “Hot” to “Cold” Dog Foods
Some research shows that dogs react to different foods in different ways. Some “hot” foods give them excess energy, while “cold” foods help calm them down.
Popular “cold” foods include rabbit, clams, duck, pork, or beef. Switching to these proteins may help your dog relax.
Meanwhile, “hot” foods can skyrocket your dog’s energy levels. Common hot foods include lamb, venison, and goat. Avoid these foods when you’re trying to calm down a rambunctious teenage puppy.
Give Your Dog an Outlet for Its Energy
Your dog has an energetic, growing body. Give your dog an outlet for that energy, and you should notice improved behavior. Take your dog for 3 or 4 walks a day, for example, if he normally gets 2 walks a day.
Or, buy some chew toys and start play wrestling with your dog. Research shows that playing with your dog builds up a bond, making the dog more likely to listen to your commands in the future. At the very least, you’re burning off your dog’s excess energy – and maybe burning a few calories yourself.
Reinforce Behavior Training
One of the most frustrating parts about raising a teenage dog is that they suddenly stop listening to commands. Your puppy may have graduated at the top of its class in obedience school, but after 12 months, your teenage dog doesn’t recognize “sit” from “heel”.
This is normal and expected. The most important thing here is to be patient and avoid becoming frustrated. Reinforce the same behavior training that has worked since your dog’s puppy years. It may take longer, and you may not feel like it’s working, but eventually, the training will stick.
If you’re really struggling with your teenage puppy, then consider going to obedience classes – especially if you never did obedience classes during the puppy years.
Remember: your dog isn’t suddenly ignoring your commands because it hates you. The chemicals and hormones in its body are changing.
Be There for Your Pet
Sadly, many dogs are given to shelters during their teenage years.
New dog owners love having a puppy – but once the dog becomes fully grown, energetic, and moody, things change. Using the tips listed above, you can manage the chaos of your adolescent puppy.