Survival 101 To Canine Adolescence!

by Kirsty Lynas and Catherine Burniston // September 2017

What to do when your pooch becomes the canine version of Kevin and Perry...!

We are all familiar with the ‘terrible ‘teens syndrome’ that hits youngsters when they reach adolescence, but did you know that our dogs also go through a similar phase?

Yes, that’s right, just when you have survived puppyhood and you think you’re on the straight and narrow, hormones rear their little heads and it’s time to really invest in your dog’s training once again.

The age of adolescence varies between breeds, but usually it hits somewhere between six to twelve months old. It can be a frustrating time where your dog seemingly forgets all the previous training you have done with him, becomes obsessed with smelling every blade of grass out on walks, suddenly becomes much more interested in other dogs, gets a little amorous with cushions….need I say more!

Adolescence is often a time for owners to think ‘what on earth have I done?’ and it is one of the most common stages when dogs get handed in to rescue centres, as their behaviour can be difficult to manage. It is really important to understand what you can do to prepare yourself for this period and the best ways to get through it.

Our Head Coach Catherine has just been through this phase with her one year old cockerpoo Eddie (even trainers aren’t immune) and has come out the other side with some top tips:

  • Work hard on your training as a young puppy so you already have a good standard in place.
  • Be prepared to be patient and expect to go back to basics with your training and don’t see this as a failure!
  • Be aware that dogs may experience a fear period during this time where they might become worried or wary of things that hadn’t bothered them previously.
  • Find extra high value treats to up the motivation for training and stay consistent.
  • Keep training sessions short to maintain interest and enjoyment.
  • Have lots of playtime together to help get rid of any excess energy and maintain the bond between you.
  • Make use of equipment such as harnesses and long lines when out and about, as adolescent dogs tend to be very distracted and may suffer from ‘selective hearing!’
  • Discuss with your vet whether this would be an appropriate time to consider neutering.
  • Vent your frustrations to other dog owners who are going through the same phase rather than at your dog. They can’t help how their hormones make them behave!

Remember this phase is completely normal and won’t last forever!

If you want some additional support during this tricky period then call 01162 836458 or email leicsdogschool@dogstrust.org.uk to sign on to classes.