Help! My dog has turned into a teenagerAdolescent dogs

During adolescence your dog’s brain is still maturing and this will affect their behaviour. The vast changes that occur may cause your dog to forget what they have previously been taught. The brain is essentially re-booting and signals are re-routed directly to the emotion centre of the brain. It is during this juvenile stage that anything unpleasant experienced is more likely to be dealt with through aggression rather than avoidance or appeasement behaviour. This is why a dog’s behaviour can appear erratic, unusual or 'out of the blue'.

On reaching adolescence, your dog’s responses to you may start to become unreliable. Dogs become more independent with an increased interest in other dogs during this phase. It is natural to feel your dog is testing the boundaries, however with the right approach you can help them through it.

What is canine adolescence?

Adolescence is a stage of transition. Dogs that are unneutered will reach sexual maturity. Adolescence refers to the time between sexual and social maturity, which can occur somewhere between 7 months and 3 years of age, depending on breed and size as larger breeds take longer to mature. In unneutered male dogs, testosterone production rises at about three times that of an adult dog, peaking at around 10 months of age, as males can start to compete with other dogs.

This can be a particularly difficult time for both owners and dogs. Trying to maintain control of your dog at this age can be challenging and the most testing time for you as an owner.

Adolescence is when dogs are refining their social skills and competitiveness with other dogs can develop, especially among males. Adolescence is also the time when bitches will come into season and this may impact upon their behaviour. Training and socialisation should be continued during this time, although females in season should be walked on a lead and limit walks to areas where other dogs are not off lead. 

A second fear period also occurs around this age and can result in your dog showing some fear behaviour. They may react to new or unusual sights or sounds. Fundamentally your dog has a young brain in an adult body and they need help coming through this 'reprocessing' phase.

Social maturity is adulthood and a dog is considered to be at the most stable stage of their development. 

Resocialisation Classes


Dogs that are impulsive, reactive or worried when seeing other dogs, or people will benefit from our Resocialisation Classesnew fp more

Behavioural Help


Issues from aggression, separation anxiety, unruliness, indoor toileting and fearfulness 
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How we can help

Whilst undesirable behaviours can occur during the adolescent stage, these can be addressed with good training. New behaviours can be learned to replace old habits. Your dog is not being stubborn, defiant or dominant, they just need help coming through their adolescence.

I am very experienced in managing the behaviour of adolescent dogs and I can help you help your dog. This may be through one of our group classes, our Resocialisation Course or one-to-one help. With time and practice on your part, your dog will be able to come through their adolescent stage and develop into a well-balanced, sociable adult dog.

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