What Now? My Dog Is An Adolescent!

Adolescence. This stage brings a whole host of different issues. You may notice your perfect puppy seems to have forgotten all he once knew. Does he seem to have selective hearing? Does he tilt his head in that cute way when you ask him to sit? Does he take off in the opposite direction when you call him? Is he barking at the world?

Don't worry. This too shall pass. It's normal. For a few months - beginning around the 6 or 7 month mark, your dog will begin to experience the changes that go along with the rush of hormones. As with most teens, the brain stops functioning in an efficient manner and takes a rest while it sorts itself out.

• Your dog is not being defiant, nor trying to take over the house. He is likely to be testing boundaries though. This is the time to revisit dog training 101. Go back to basics if necessary.

• It's a time for patience, gentle guidance, and perhaps a time out or two (these must be given correctly or they will not be effective).

• As you did in puppyhood, set your adolescent up for success. If you are not sure he will respond to what you ask, don't ask.

• This is a great time to sign up for a training class (force free please) or private training and continue to engage his brain and keep him active.

• Physical as well as mental stimulation are key for a healthy dog.

This challenging period will continue off and on until close to maturity, approximately 2-3 years old, depending on breed.

Expect another chewing phase around this time as well. Because he now has adult teeth and a strong jaw, he can do serious damage. Don't ease up on supervision just yet. Continue to provide lots of legitimate chewing opportunities.

Don't give up on your adolescent! This stage is one of the reasons dogs end up in shelters.

Be patient, be considerate, provide structure and rules. Take a deep breath and remember it's temporary. Your wonderful, loving companion will come out on the other side just fine.