Believe it or not, our domestic dogs, just like humans, go through very set developmental periods in early life, including a period known as “adolescence”.
In dogs, this begins at the time of sexual maturity – so at around five to six months of age and can last up until two to three years of age – so, a long time!!!
During adolescence, the dog’s brain undergoes a complete “re-model” and transforms from a puppy brain into an adult brain.
Due to these changes in the brain, emotions can be very difficult to manage during this time which may contribute to an amplification in unwanted behaviours. Many dog parents notice that their once cute and cuddly pups suddenly find it more difficult to listen and learn appropriate behaviours.
Of course, brain changes are not the only changes to occur during adolescence. Hormonal changes play an important role in behaviour during this time as well as physical changes. “Growing pains”, for example, may need serious consideration, especially in large breed dogs as we know that pain can considerably affect behaviour.
The good news is that there are many things we can do to help our dogs through this time of change. Awareness and empathy are great starting points as we help our pups navigate their teenage years. Reaching out to a professional animal behaviourist may also help and we have that specialty at German Veterinary Clinic in Abu Dhabi.
Everything we do at our purpose-built GVC Pet Behaviour and Training Centre utilises and focusses on the 3 Cs during these adolescent years (see examples below).
The 3 Cs help preserve the human-animal bond and move safely though this time of change:
1. Calm – we can teach our dogs calm behaviours and help them deal with frustration.
2. Confidence – we can teach new experiences safely and without fear and give our dogs the tools to make good choices in new situations.
3. Connection – adolescence is a great time to focus on strengthening the relationship with your dog. This will teach your dog that you “have their back” and are their point of safety and security.
If you are struggling with your “teenage” dog, please get in touch with the GVC Pet Behaviour and Training team today on firstname.lastname@example.org to see how we can help!
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