The Teenage Dog
An important topic of which little is said is the adolescence of the dog: a very particular phase that begins between the fifth and ninth month of his life and ends between 2 and 3 years, depending on age and race.
In this delicate period, the changes are many, in positive and in negative and, so, it happens that we sing victory too quickly because our puppies seem to us already obedient and well socialized, from nowhere or after attending a puppy class, definitively interrupting the activities of training and socialization. It can also happen to discourage us too much, if in some days the dog behaves worse than usual. Well, with the permission of an expert of whom I have great respect, Prof. Ian Dunbar (veterinarian, behaviouralist and writer of world renown) I have translated into Italian for you his not recent but very interesting article that will enlighten you on how best to deal with, together with your trust, this special phase of his life. If you are interested, you can find the full version of the text in English at this link.
But Now Back to Us!
“It’s likely that you’re exhausted enough for the efforts you’ve made in raising your puppy. You are, however, confident and legitimately proud of your well-behaved dog, who behaves well, is well socialized and has a reliable bite inhibition. However, adolescence is an age of change. To ensure that your polite, kind and friendly puppy remains as polite, kind and friendly in adulthood, you will need to intensify your socializing and training activities. Don’t take his extraordinary qualities for granted. Always take the opportunity to praise your dog when he is doing the right thing and reward him whenever he is doing particularly well.
Your quadruped needs to meet new people regularly. In other words, he will need to be taken for a walk at least once a day.
Your puppy can be put in a car and taken to a friend’s house as soon as you want. From the age of 4 months, go for walks with your puppy regularly, at least once a day. Otherwise, if the dog is confined to the house and continues to meet the same family members, he will lose his social skills at an astonishing rate and soon become suspicious and fearful of strangers, especially children and men.
Also, your quadruped needs to regularly meet unknown dogs. It is a fact that not all dogs get along well. However, if you have given your puppy many opportunities to play with other puppies and dogs and to develop a solid bite inhibition, it is highly unlikely that he will hurt another dog while they fight. When dogs have a reliable bite inhibition, most fights are nothing more than discussions. Keep your pet socializing with his or her peers on walks and in the park.
The main purpose of a dog farm is to select a friendly, confident and docile puppy, so that you can cope with the behaviors and challenges of training during the adolescence of your quadruped, and that he is able to cope with the immense social upheaval that dogs, especially males, face at this stage of their lives.
It is easier to approach the adolescence of the dog if it is already socialized and educated. However, continuing socialization and education during this period can be complicated if you do not know what to expect and how to deal with it.
Behaviour is constantly changing, sometimes improving, sometimes worsening. Things will always get better if you continue to work with your teenage dog, but they will get worse if you don’t. Both behavior and temperament will tend to stabilise, for better or for worse, around two years of age for small animals and three years for large animals. But until then, if you don’t manage it, there can be sudden and catastrophic changes in your dog’s temperament and behavior. Even when your quadruped reaches maturity, you must always be alert for the appearance of unwanted behavior or traits, which you can quickly crush in the bud before they become difficult to dissolve habits.