Puppy adolescence: trials and tribulations

Tales of teenage terror

Q:Can you tell me where I've gone wrong with my puppy? She used to be so good about coming when she was called and doing what she was told. It seems like just overnight she's turned into a brat and deliberately disobeys me. She's already been to an obedience class but she acts like she's forgotten everything she learned. She's nine months old.

A: Welcome to adolescence! You have the canine equivalent of a rebellious teenager. Young puppies are very dependent on people and other dogs for instructions. They have a strong instinct to follow and to fit in. At about six months of age, they start to think for themselves and test their independence. This is also the time when they start to question your authority. Instead of automatically obeying you when you give a command, they now ask “What for?” and “What will you do if I don't?”

This can be a trying time for your relationship. In fact, most dogs taken to animal shelters because of “behavior problems” are between nine and 18 months old — prime canine adolescence. Most of these problems could be solved if the owner understood what was really going on and how to handle it.

This is also a very critical time for your relationship. Dogs do grow out of adolescence but what they learn during that time will stay with them the rest of their lives. Your puppy is testing you. If she learns that you won't enforce your commands and that she only has to obey when she wants to, you'll be setting a pattern that will be very hard to break.

It's important that you only give a command when you mean it and only when you're prepared to follow through. If you've called her to come and she doesn't, go and get her. Every time, no exceptions. Work a short obedience practice session into your schedule every day to brush up on her training. Include obedience commands like “Sit,” “Down,” and “Stay” in your daily routine around the house so they become second nature to you and your puppy.

Be consistent. If you enforce a command sometimes but not always, she'll learn that she only has to obey you sometimes. Show her what you expect from her every time.

Be persistent. Teenagers and adolescent dogs are stubborn. To get your point across, you need to be stubborner than they are!

Be patient. A well-trained dog doesn't just happen, it takes an investment of time and effort. To get the full return on this investment, a teenaged dog needs guidance and time to mature. Adolescence is a temporary condition but the solid foundation you build now will support your relationship for many years to come.

Vicki DeGruy

This page is a part of the Dog Owner's Guide internet website and is copyright 2014 by Canis Major Publications. You may print or download this material for non-commercial personal or school educational use. All other rights reserved. If you, your organization or business would like to reprint our articles in a newsletter or distribute them free of charge as an educational handout please see our reprint policy.

Related articles Related books
Have you seen the rest of the Dog Owner's Guide articles on Manners & training, Ask the dog trainer and Survival kit for dog owners? Don't miss the rest of our articles. Training, health, nutrition and more. . . . Looking for more information about Puppy adolescence: trials and tribulations, Manners & training, Ask the dog trainer and Survival kit for dog owners? See our list below, visit amazon.com or Dogwise, All Things Dog for those hard-to-find dog books!

Dog Owner's Guide Related Articles

This is article 11 of 75 in the Manners & training topic.
    Next Article: Dog crates: The crate: a modern dog den
    Previous Article: The first six months: You're never too young to learn

Related articles:
     Table of contents for "Manners & training" only: This topic's table of contents

This is article 10 of 24 in the Ask the dog trainer topic.
    Next Article: Surviving the holidays with your dog: Manners aren't just for kids
    Previous Article: Good manners at the vet and groomer: Socialization outside the home

Related articles:
     Table of contents for "Ask the dog trainer" only: This topic's table of contents

This is article 42 of 51 in the Survival kit for dog owners topic.
    Next Article: This dog is driving me crazy! : Great expectations run amok
    Previous Article: Canine common courtesy: Common courtesy and doggie etiquette protects owners and their neighbors

Related articles:
     Table of contents for "Survival kit for dog owners" only: This topic's table of contents

Site Topic and article lists:
     Site topic list: Quick list of topics
     Site table of contents: All Dog Owner's Guide articles, listed by topic

Books of Interest

Looking for unusual dog books not easily available anywhere else?

Wondering what dog books are selling at Amazon?
Amazon's general dog's bestseller list
Amazon's breed dog's bestseller list
Amazon's health dog's bestseller list
Amazon's training dog's bestseller list

Dog Owner's Guide, in association with AMAZON.COM, recommends these books for more information on . . .

Puppy adolescence: trials and tribulations

Manners & training

Ask the dog trainer

There are no books for this topic.

Survival kit for dog owners

Browse our list of recommended books arranged by topic
Search for any book, video or CD at Amazon.com

Contact us