Everyone remembers their teenage years. We all try to find our own way through trying times, and probably look back at the ridiculous way we dressed or other questionable decisions we had made.
Humans are well aware of what happens when we go through puberty, but do dogs go through puberty as well? Do other animals have a similar period of life? We take a look at these questions below.
While most people stereotype human teens as being moody or obnoxious, do dogs act the same way? A 2020 study out of the UK tried to answer this exact question. Scientists at Newcastle University looked closely at 69 different dogs of five months old. They followed these dogs through eight months old.
What these researchers found was that once dogs were around eight months old, or the adolescence period for dogs, they became more difficult to train. These “teenage” dogs would listen to commands less even if they had known the commands previously. So, your adolescent dog could be a bit stubborn if you are asking them to do something.
What’s even more interesting is that the dogs in the study were taking longer to respond to their owner’s commands. If a stranger commanded the dog, it would be more willing to listen. Researchers found that by twelve months of age, most dogs had gotten out of that adolescent phase and were much more responsive to their owners.
It looks like these researchers showed that having a difficult teen doesn’t only apply to humans. The takeaway is that if your dog is in their adolescent period, you should maybe be more lenient with their uncooperative behavior. It seems that dogs can’t help but be a little difficult during this time.
The Birds and the Bees
In another strange similarity with humans, the same researchers of the study above found out that female dogs who didn’t already have solid relationships with humans were likely to reach puberty earlier than other dogs. According to the researchers, this was the first time that the impact of a cross-species relationship had an impact on an animal’s reproductive timing.
Speaking of reproduction, once a dog goes through their “teenage” phase at eight months, they will continue on to their sexual maturity until they can produce offspring. Most dogs are able to start procreating around the age of 8 months, though this date can change based on breed or size. Larger dogs usually take a bit longer to mature.
If your dog has not been spayed or neutered, you can expect them to ready themselves for procreation. By the age of 8 months, a female dog will go into heat about twice a year. This period typically lasts for about a week, though it can last up to three weeks. Expect a female dog to start going into heat between the ages of six and fifteen months. If you do not want your dog to become pregnant during this time, it’s important to keep other dogs away from her.
Male dogs will start marking their territory as they become of age. They may also start “roaming” which means that they will start seeking out partners. They will also try desperately to escape your backyard. An intact male is going to try and find a mate, and they are fertile all the time. This means an intact male can lead to a lot of issues and risks.
The long and short of dog maturity is that unless you are a breeder, spaying or neutering your pet will probably be the best option to stop these unwanted behaviors. Spaying or neutering helps:
- Stop unplanned pregnancies
- Reduce certain health risks associated with reproduction
- Reduce undesirable behaviors such as mounting and roaming
The Search for Independence
Eventually, your stubborn puppy will grow out of its teenage phase. This means they’ll be more willing to listen to you. If you’ve treated them fairly and not harshly, they’ll probably be even more willing to listen because you’ve built that trust with them.
As your dog passes its first year of life, continue with its training. Teaching them simple commands, and helping them gain mastery of those commands, can lead to a confident dog. Also, be sure to socialize your dog as much as possible. By socializing them early and often, you will introduce them to many experiences. This too will raise their confidence and make them more well-adjusted. As they grow, you may want them to be close to you. You’ll also want them to develop their own sense of independence.