|Posted on November 27, 2012 at 11:00 AM|
My sweet little puppy is becoming a teenager. It's not just the obvious physical changes; I am also seeing more subtle behavioral changes coming on. Most notable is the big question mark she has over her head when I say "sit".
At five months, she is entering the world of adolescense. Like a teenage human, she still has a developing brain but a body that’s nearly the size of an adult. The maturing process of the adolescent dog resembles that of the human teenager. Halle will need similar guidance during this difficult stage of her life (and mine).
I’ve been doing a lot of research on canine adolescense thanks to my trainer who kept reminding me that my precious little bundle of joy would so become a teenager. She warned me to be prepared for the angst of raising an adolescent dog.
During my research, I found this great article that explains quite well what your dog is experiencing and gives some great tips on riding out the storm Adolescense: The Teenage Dog
For anyone who's ever been a teenager or raised a teenager, I think that this article by CAROL A. BYRNES "DIAMONDS IN THE RUFF" says it all.
When does adolescent’s begin? Think of your dog’s age in months, much like grades in school
Months 1-4 - Preschool thru elementary age. Learns to navigate the world, establish appropriate social skills with people and other animals. At 3-4 months puppies still rely on knowing where you are at all times for their safety. This strong orienting (following) reflex means it's a great time to teach come when called! They are sponges looking to learn the language and communicate. Exploration - touch, taste, smell. Teething - everything goes in the mouth. Puppy zooms! Crazy wild running.
Months 5-6 - Pre-adolescence. Just as 5th & 6th grade children begin to have an independent sense of self-reliance and want to play further from home, they are still very dependent on their parents. 5 and 6 month old puppies reach a similar developmental milestone. At 5 months, the dog who came like a rocket suddenly stands in the yard and stares at you, considering his options, weighing the potential circumstances of his behavior. Don't take him off leash at the park - even if he was trustworthy before. 5 month old pups become aware that there are strangers in the world - some are not part of our pack! Puppies find their voice, often "boof-boof-boofing" at new people and things.
Months 7-9 - Adolescence peaks. "Middle school." A trying time for parents and owners of teenaged kids and pets. This is as bad as it gets! Statistics show the majority of dogs turned over by their owners to animal shelters and rescues are relinquished at 8 months of age. Second fear imprint period. They spook, startle and bolt at the silliest things. Nuisance barking at every leaf that falls, protest barking, sass barking emerges. Easily bored. Bored pups destroy everything in their path. Brain games, problem solving, train, train, train! Exercise of body and mind is essential. Boys lift their legs. Girls will come in season soon if not spayed already.
Months 9-12 - Adolescence plateaus. "High school." Territoriality, patrolling, barking and bluff rushes to make the threat go away. Urine marking is enhanced in unneutered dogs. Dating and mating. Girl dogs come into season and unneutered boys' total focus is finding one who is and getting to her. Escape! Once they find out they can, they will continue to try. Canine athletes need an outlet for excess energy.
Months 12-18 - Heading into adulthood. "College." Occasional glimmers of clarity. Looks and sometimes acts like an adult, but mostly he is a gangly, crazy, party animal frat boy. Girl dogs gone wild. This dog needs a JOB.
Months 18 to maturity - The calm sets in. Over the next few months, the dog who ran you ragged may need to be urged off the couch to play. At 7 your dog is officially a "senior citizen." Couch potato types may put on a few pounds if you don't monitor their diet and exercise.
Sniff on! Train on! Come on!
Susie & Halle
Certified Professional Dog Trainer-KA #2102473
National Association of Canine Scent Work Associate Nose Work Instructor
Canine Life and Social Skills Instructor #650449
Canine Life and Social Skills Evaluator #E750153
AKC Canine Good Citizenship Evaluator #51179
TAGteach Primary Certification
Licensed "Be a Tree" PresenterMember of Association of Pet Dog Trainers #76263
Member of the Pet Professional Guild