Adolescence, it can be a scary word for many parents around the world. Did you know your puppy goes through an adolescent stage as well? This time of life is critical to your puppy’s development, so it is important that you are prepared. In today’s blog, we discuss the adolescent stage in puppies, what to expect and what your puppy needs from you in this phase of life.
The Adolescent Period
Your puppy will emerge into adolescence at around six months of age. Adolescence ends when a dog reaches physical maturity. For most dogs, this is around two to three years of age. Don’t panic yet, the majority of “issues” you might encounter due to adolescence are usually between six to twelve months of age.
Your puppy might relate a lot to your teenage children during this time period. They may appear gawky or as if they are growing into their bodies. Like teenagers, you may find that your puppy is a bit more “rebellious” in this stage. At this point in his/her life, your puppy is finding out who they are and what rules they need to abide by. It is critical that you set clear boundaries that your puppy understands so his/her stubborn streak doesn’t cause issues in the home.
The adolescent period is a critical time to bond with your new addition. While their behaviors might test us during this time, it is important to remember that patience is key. How you react to their somewhat naughty behaviors will impact not only their confidence, but their faith in you.
As always, we cannot stress enough how important it is that you rely on a certified trainer during your puppy’s formative years. As your puppy starts to test the waters a bit, you will be thankful for a strong foundation in the basic commands. Further training will allow your puppy an outlet for their energy and mental development. This is the time when your puppy should understand the basic obedience commands. Trust me, “drop it” and “leave it” are crucial during these potentially ornery months! Be sure to use positive reinforcement during the training process to further solidify your bond with your puppy.
By six months of age, your puppy should have all of his/her adult teeth, but don’t get too excited just yet. Teething is, unfortunately, not quite over. There is a secondary chewing phase that begins around eight to ten months of age, so keep those chew toys handy. One thing to keep in mind is that your puppy’s chew toys will need to grow with her/her age. Chew toys that may have previously taken them a while to go through may now be too easy for them to bite off in chunks, which could result in a choke hazard.
Toys we love that are puppy-approved include:
- Kong toys
- Hard nylon toys
- Thick rope toys
- Interactive toys with treats inside
And don’t forget to never feed your puppy any kind of cooked bone! Cooked bones can easily splinter and become lodged in the throat or digestive track.
Archview Tip: If your puppy is a vigorous chewer, toys filled with stuffing or thin rubber squeaky toys are a no-no. These toys are easily destroyed and are not only a mess around your home, but they pose a choke risk as parts can be swallowed easily.
Socializing and Exercising
This is the most critical time to socialize your furry friend! We have previously written an entire blog on socialization practices that are Archview approved, so we will hit on the highlights today.
- Always make sure your pooch is properly vaccinated before taking them to high-canine-traffic areas.
- Be an expert at reading your dog’s body language and never force them into a situation that compromises their confidence.
- Slowly introduce them to things that might trigger a fear response out of your pup.
- Prepare them for experiences they may not have everyday, but will be a part of their life such as grooming or going for car rides.
Your best friend through the entire adolescent periods is exercise… and lots of it! Take your pups for walks, allow them to interact with other dogs that they are friends with or toss around a toy in the backyard. Keep your pup moving and their brain working so that they are simply too tired to test the boundaries or destroy a beloved household object. Remember, a tired pup makes for a happy owner!
So don’t fear the adolescent period! While it might bring it’s own series of challenges, it truly is an exciting time. You get to watch your pup blossom and transform into a wonderful family friend. As always, feel free to reach out to us with any questions you might have. We are always happy to help!