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Adolescent Dogs Act Similarly to Teenage Humans, Study Suggests

Although our doggie pals are generally however, they also can have plenty in their attitude. Take a look at a cute Siberian Husky not wanting to get out of the pet parks as well as in the case of an Italian greyhound chewing his dog’s bed while the other dogs were gone. Sure, we laugh but this kind of behavior cannot be sustained for long.

Like teenagers who challenge boundaries, young dogs do too. Based on 2020 research findings that were published by the journal of science Biology Letters which forms part of The Royal Society Publishing, “adolescence is a very difficult time for relationships between dog owners and their dogs.”

How do Adolescent Dogs behave similarly to teenage Humans?

Author of the study Naomi Harvey, Ph.D. Zoologist, who is specialized in the behavior of companion animals and welfare claims she and her co-authors believed that the dog-owner relationship could mirror the parent-child relationship in many ways. Therefore, they researched potential guide dogs from the United Kingdom. The breeds they studied included German shepherds, golden retrievers, Labrador retrievers, and crosses of them and all go through puberty around 6-9 months old.

The research team examined 70 dog breeds and the attachment behaviors and how the dogs behaved when their owner left them on their own. They discovered that puppies aged 5 months with more attachment behaviors that seek attention, such as having a close relationship with their owners when they’re with them and displaying distress when not–were more likely to puberty earlier.

In the second part that was conducted, researchers looked at the way that 93 dogs responded to the cues of their owner versus strangers. Certain dogs were examined as pre-adolescents, at the age of 5 months, while others were tested in the adolescent years at 8 months.

The study revealed that the older dog group was less likely “to respond to the “sit” signal than the puppies of younger age. It was only when they were directed to do this by their owner and not by the person they were with. Actually, the adolescent dogs were nearly two times more likely to disregard the cues to sit, and probably with typical heavy sighs of teenagers and eye rolls as well. Researchers concluded that dogs in the adolescent age are able to mimic the same behaviors as humans do.

However, bear in mind that this is only the result of a single study and could not be representative of the entire adolescent behavior of dogs.

Strategies to Deal with Adolescent Dogs


Harvey isn’t looking for these findings to cause any upset to pet parents by any means. Instead, she wants parents to be aware of how to prepare for their pet’s awkward transition from puppyhood into adulthood.

“For pet owners, the most important conclusion of this research is yes your dog may be prone to exhibit some undesirable behavior during the adolescence period, such as less obedience and maybe more fear of separation However, it’s an entirely normal aspect of development and it will get better,” she explains.

Harvey stresses that regardless of how upset you are the idea of punishing your dog is not the best option. “Especially at this point when it can backfire and worsen the situation since it’s a vulnerable moment in a dog’s development as a behavioral animal,” Harvey says.

Mikkel Becker KPA CTP, CBCC-KA and CPDT-KA. CDBC is a canine behavior expert and head trainer at Fear Free. She believes that this is an extremely stressful time for both dogs and pet parents.

“The dogs are extremely attracted by their surroundings by exploring and playing,” Becker says. “However don’t get discouraged. Training can be achieved at this point. However frustrated we might be, our perseverance and perseverance will be rewarded.”

Becker offers some helpful strategies that will help you and your pet to navigate the terrible teens.

  • The goal is to encourage “say Please” behaviors. “They must respond to you and do what is expected of them. Find a meaning to the reason they should be listening to you, be it to get outdoors, go for a walk and eat, and so on,” Becker says. You can ask them to do something easy, like “four feet on the floor” in the event that your pet is bouncing around. You could also request a “sit” or”sit” or “down”. “Even If they’re not aware of these commands, you can be patient when they are calm and settled and give them what they would like, such as an exercise or a reward,” she adds.
  • Give your dog a variety of activities to enrich their life. Dogs at this stage will like to dig and play, chew, scavenge and explore. “Make an outdoor or indoor dig pit or offer them a game of food during mealtimes,” Becker says. “When you’re walking and you’re out, let them play and sniff. Do not be a drill sergeant and take away their joy!”
  • contain door dashers. Becker notes that the adolescent dog has the urge to go out, explore new locations, and be free. “Be sure to tell them to sit before getting in the door. Also, go on extra long walks and often go to your dog’s park. Ideally, 3 walks per day for dogs of this age is ideal.”


Harvey states that the adolescence of dogs is not being studied as thoroughly and she’d like to see it change. “[It could] inform us on the best ways to raise an adult dog to be an active, healthy as well as emotionally secure adult. This will enhance the lives of the dog and its owner.”

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