Study Finds That Dogs Go Through A ‘Teenage’ Phase When They Hit Puberty

Who remembers their teenage years? It was a time of mixed emotions, and thankfully, we left those years behind us and our emotions evened out for the most part. My parents definitely were thankful when I left my “angry” years behind me.

While humans obviously go through a time of growth known as puberty, apparently our dogs can as well! Who knew?

As a study from a number of UK universities found, our dogs can actually experience a “teenage” phase in their lives which is pretty similar to that of human teenagers going through puberty. So yeah, that means lots of emotions.

Photo: Pixabay

Research was conducted on 69 dogs – starting at 5 months before adolescence and going through their adolescence, which began around 8 months old. As the studies found, the puppies were found to take longer to “sit” and follow commands, something that they already knew. So, it would seem that there’s a bit of rebellion happening.

The research group also conducted a questionnaire survey among 285 dog owners, and the results showed similar findings – the dogs experiencing puberty proved to harder to train.

Speaking to BBC’s Newsbeat, zoologist Dr. Naomi Harvey explained that the research found evidence where dogs experience a reduction in obedience towards their owners. Dr. Harvey further clarified that the reduced obedience was specific to the dog’s owner, and not towards other people. She stated that when there was a stranger present the dog would not act out – how familiar does that sound? As Dr. Harvey referred to it, it was the canine version of “taking it out on your mum.”

She further stated, “It is associated with all of the issues going on inside the dog during puberty. The hormonal fluctuations and the remodeling of the brain to become an adult brain cause a lot of issues.”

However, dog owners need not fret as the study thankfully clarified that it is only a phase. And it seemed to only last through puberty, and once they past adolescence the dogs became obedient once again.

An animal behavior scientist in charge of the study, Dr. Lucy Asher, spoke to BBC and explained that the adolescence is a time of great importance and change in a dog’s life.

Dr. Asher said, “This is a very important time in a dog’s life. This is when dogs are often rehomed because they are no longer a cute little puppy and suddenly, their owners find they are more challenging and they can no longer control them or train them.”

She further explained that just like human teenagers, dog owners need to remember that it’s just a phase – it will eventually pass. Dr. Asher’s advice for pet owners who have an angsty teen pup on their hands is to switch their training methods to positive reinforcement. Rather than using punishment, the key to training a teenage dog is to be consistent with the reward system. But above everything else, just remember that it’s all just a passing phase and your angsty teen dog will eventually grow out of it and become the sweet and loving little pup it once was before.

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Anastasia is an American ex-pat living in Ireland. When she's not writing she can be found wandering the Irish countryside in search of inspiration. You can follow her writing adventures on Twitter @AnastasiaArell5 or Instagram @writeranastasia26
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