You have successfully navigated the first few months of your puppy’s life.  Your sweet, adorable puppy is now toilet trained, he sits when you ask him to and he comes back to you when you call him.  All of your friends and family are very impressed with the great job you have done of raising your puppy.  You have taught him lots of every day good manners and he has lapped it all up, quickly learning everything with enthusiasm.  Your puppy interacted well with other dogs and was very sociable, and gave you his full attention in return for a piece of sausage and lots of praise.

And then, (sometimes it seems like it happens overnight) you start to notice that when you ask your puppy to sit, he looks at you as if you have just spoken to him in a foreign language.  You call him back when he is off-lead at the park and he gives you a look that roughly translates as ‘Erm I don’t think so, I have better things to do than come back to you!’  You call your pup’s name and instead of that angelic little face turning to look at you, the cheeky devil looks the other way!  You walk him down the street and he passes a dog he decides he doesn’t quite like the look of, and barks or growls.  Visitors to the house seem to decline, because they are greeted by a half dog, half jumping up jack-in-the-box!   The diagnosis is… you have a teenage dog!

Dogs go through adolescence at around 6-7 months of age, some dogs may start slightly earlier and some (especially larger breeds) may start later.  In general, the smaller the breed, the sooner they will become teenagers.  The peak teenage period is generally around 7 – 10 months of age, but you will keep noticing changes in behaviour and maturity until around 2yrs of age.

If your male dog is not neutered he will be experiencing surges of testosterone however even neutered dogs will experience adolescence and the traits that go along with it.

Canine adolescence can be likened to human adolescence, if you have ever lived with a teenager, or have been a teenager yourself; you will have some understanding of how difficult the phase can be. It involves both physical and behavioural changes.  Teenage dogs will test their limits (does he come back when you call him?), and they will have lapses in concentration (You are sure he once knew what ‘sit meant!).

We are often asked why we have a cut-off age limit of 20 weeks for our puppy classes, or why we think a 6 month old dog may be better suited to our Adult Beginners Obedience course rather than the puppy course.  The answer is ‘adolescence’.  We have a great understanding of puppy and dog development and our courses are tailored to suit the stage that your dog is currently at.  A lot of the exercises and behaviours we teach are similar on both the puppy and adult courses; however they differ slightly on each course to suit the ever-changing needs of your growing dog. A puppy aged over 20 weeks is still a young dog, but by joining our Adult Beginners Obedience course rather than our puppy course, you, your dog and your family will gain more benefit and stage-appropriate training for your dog.

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Ami Sekhon is the owner of Cheshire Dog School, which offers dog obedience training, workshops, home visits and much more in and around Warrington, Cheshire. Ami has been involved in dog training for many years and she also enjoys successfully competing with her own dogs in Agility and other dog sports. In 2016 Ami won the Enterprise Vision Award in the North West in the Training and Coaching Category and is a 2017 finalist for the Solo Business award. [more]