Teen Trouble

If you thought adolescence was just a problem for parents of two-legged teens, think again! Your polite puppy is about to make you wish you could pack her off to college ASAP! Adolescence in young dogs is a trying time for owners, but understanding the stages may help you exercise patience when you’re at your wit’s end.

Your dog’s “teen years” actually occur somewhere around 6-8 months of age. During this time, your dog’s brain and hormones develop, along with new interests and a desire for independence (usually expressed as impulsiveness). Adolescent dogs are less likely to listen, too distracted to follow the rules and too interested in smelling the roses to remember that pulling on the leash is a no-no.

But just as human teenagers eventually settle down, your pup will too. Here are some tips to help you survive in the meantime:

** head start: If possible, train your dog while she’s a puppy; bad behavior is easier to prevent than to correct.

** stay firm: Be consistent with the rules, even though your dog isn’t interested in following them. If you backslide now, they’ll have the upper hand.

** go, girl! Actively look for desired behaviors from your teenage dog and reward them highly.

** no “pun” intended: Avoid harsh punishments for undesired behaviors. Never, ever physically punish your pet.

** social life: Continue to introduce your dog to the world around her, and encourage interaction with other dogs. Your dog may become less friendly to other dogs or people, so keep practicing her social skills.

The good news is dogs tend to outgrow this behavior by their second birthday — third at the latest! If you’re at the end of your leash and feel like giving up, call your veterinarian (or All Around Hound) for more advice on weathering the terrible teens!

— Shared from the Magazine Fetch

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