What You Should Know About Dogs' "Teenage Phase" at Puberty
Puberty and adolescence is a heck of a thing. When it comes to humans, puberty and teenage angst might look like a form of rebellion from parents with a higher interest in fulfilling personal desires and interests no matter what momma and papa say.
What if we told you that dogs, too, have a “teenage phase” when they hit puberty?
What a bizarre concept to think about when you see those words put together, but we’re sure a number of you fur baby parents might have observed behaviors from your own doggos that might touch on this “teenage phase”.
Studies were conducted by a team of United Kingdom researchers to examine this teenage phase that our dogs go through. Much like human children, dogs bond with their human [“parents”].
Reported by ScienceMag.org, “‘[But] owners often feel like they’re failing when their puppies reach adolescence,’ about 8 months for most dogs, says Lucy Asher, a behavioral ethologist at Newcastle University and lead author of the new study, out today in Biology Letters. Like teenagers—whose bodies flood with hormones and whose brains are rewired during puberty—adolescent dogs can disregard and disobey their owners.
And owners respond in many ways, Asher says. Some punish their pups, some ignore them, and some even send them away.”
The study that was conducted was designed to test obedience, because as we all know, teenagers are subject to struggle with complying with authority in their lives (parents, teachers, etc). A group of dogs were given the same commands at two separate times in their growth: one at 5 months old and another at 8 months old.
It was observed that, at 8 months old when they are in their “teenage phase”, that the stronger the attachment to their owners/human parents, the more likely they would be disobedient as a teenager. So when these dogs were given a command at 8 months old by their owners, they refused. But when a stranger gave the same command, they - while showing signs of annoyance - complied.
All of these behaviors are associated with the changes occurring in their body at this age. Hormone fluctuations, the shift in growth to the adult brain, etc. It was also determined that training dogs during the teenage phase is a struggle. Pre-adolescent dogs and post-adolescent dogs are easier to train versus dogs going through their dreaded teenage phase.
Newsbeat reports, “‘Dr Asher has this guidance: "We would suggest people remain consistent and use rewards rather than punishing their dog. It's important to remember it's not the dog deliberately behaving badly it's just their biology. In general we'd ask owners to be kind to their dog during this time and understand it's just a passing phase.’”
Is your dog going through their teenage phase or do you remember them when they were going through that phase? Does everything you just read apply?
This research study is a 2020 development and should anything else surface, we’ll be sure to update this post!
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