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When Puppies Become Teenagers!

Being a teenager is hard! Parenting teenagers is also hard! That's the same regardless of whether we are talking about human or non-human animals.

Most dogs hit adolescence at around 5-6 months of age and it can last until they are 12-18 months old. It is not the same as reaching puberty, although the events do tend to overlap.

Adolescence seems to quite literally cause those experiencing it to have less-sense. But there's very good reasons for these strange changes. This phase of development coincides with when the individual would usually be expected to receive less support from their biological family and transition towards independence. That requires a lot of new skills and qualities. You need to be brave, but cautious at the same time, you need to assert yourself and find your place as an individual, to take less guidance from your parents and to learn how to adult.

The brain has developed a rather risky strategy to help achieve this transition. In it's wisdom (who am I to question the brain and evolution...) it decided that it would take a juvenille brain and first super charge the part of the brain in charge of emotions, risk taking, movement and thrill seeking. Then once you reach adulthood, it would start to boost the frontal parts of the brain, associated with problem solving, patience and self control. So essentially it creates a fast car and then doesn't fit the brakes until the first service..... suprise suprsie there tends to be a few crashes along the way!

Adolescence is totally normal, but that doesn't mean it's easy. If you knwo what to expect it can be easier to survive though. Sadly most dogs who are rehomed are teenagers, as are many who are put to sleep due to their behaviour. How you respond to the challenges your adolescent dog throws at you will determine what your relationship looks like when you emerge out the other side (it does end I promise!).

It is totally normal for teenagers to:

- Find anything forbidden really intersting

- Listen to anyone and everyone expect their parents

- Become more outspoken

- Be sensitive and easily upset

- Display emotional outbursts

- Get frustrated

- 'Forget' how to behave 'appropriately'

- Not care what you have to say / what you think of them

But it isn't all bad. This is a key time to strengthen your relationship and learn what sort of adult your terrible teen is becoming. Make time for fun games and activities, show interest in their new hobbies, let them hang out with their friends. Try to empathise, weve all been there. Being a teenager sucks. It's not fun for anyone; but it is a completely normal stage of development. It will pass. But remeber if you've spent the last 6-12 months nagging, punishing, reprimading and avoiding your teenager they aren't going to emerge as adults who have a strong bond with their parents.

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