Much like humans turn into grumpy adolescents at the time of puberty, so too does your dog, new research has confirmed.
The study, conducted at Newcastle University in the UK, looked at the behaviour of over 350 dogs as they hit the age of puppy puberty, which usually occurs between five and eight months of age.
Lead researcher Dr Lucy Asher and her team concluded that dogs go through a phase of stubbornness and disobedience in their ‘teenage’ years, not dissimilar to that experienced by humans.
Looking specifically at the obedience of labradors, golden retrievers and crossbreeds of the two, the researchers found that dogs took more time responding to the ‘sit’ command during adolescence, but only when the order was given by their owner and not a stranger (punishing mum, perhaps?).
The chances of them showcasing this stubbornness was highest around the eight-month-old mark, but improved significantly after this time.
It’s important for pet parents to understand the behaviour of their dogs, particularly when you take into account the fact that puppies are most commonly handed over to shelters at this age.
“This is a very important time in a dog’s life,” Asher said. “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 urges puppy parents to expect this time may present some challenges, but to be patient with their pets, continue to apply positive reinforcement in training, and expect it to pass in good time as a phase.
“It’s very important that owners don’t punish their dogs for disobedience or start to pull away from them emotionally at this time,” says Asher. “This would be likely to make any problem behaviour worse, as it does in human teens.”