Puberty: A challenge for all, even your dog

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Puppy, puberty

Sadly, most dogs arrive at shelters during puberty, mainly because their owners do not understand the sudden changes. Most people do not realize that puberty is, like in humans, just a stage that will pass. We don’t drop our teenage children off at a shelter, so why does this happen to adolescent dogs?

During puberty, door slamming and calls like “I hate you!” and “you never let me go anywhere!” are par for the course for any teenager. Nobody, not even your dog, reaches adulthood without going through puberty. If you could understand your puppy, you might have recognized the same anger in its bark. Yes, dogs go through puberty.

Dog puberty

Because the lifespan of dogs is much shorter than humans, dog puberty happens during the puppy stage. Human adolescence is typically between 13 and 18 years, which is the equivalent of four to 20 months for dogs. Large breed dogs develop slower than smaller breeds. Similarly, male dogs mature slower than female dogs. While humans develop acne, grow facial hair and other bodily changes during adolescence, puppies chew shoes and exhibit various types of undesirable behavior.

Pup, excited, surprise
Boy pup’s reaction to girl pup

Puppy behavior during puberty

Male dogs are serious about marking their territory during puberty, and they tend to mount just about anything. They also attempt to sneak out like teenage boys, seeking the attention of any females they come across. On the other hand, like adolescent girls who reach maturity with their first menstrual cycle, female dogs go into heat. In the time leading up to that, female dogs tend to lick their genitals, and excessive shedding may occur. Boy pups are experts in following their noses to girl pups in heat. During this time, you might want to keep her indoors and have a secure barrier when she ventures outside. This is because she can become pregnant during the first heat cycle and have puppies while she is still a mere puppy herself.

Personality changes

Both male and female adolescent dogs can display a whole lot of unfamiliar personality traits. Behaviors could include irritability, anxiety, jumpiness, insecurity, increased independence, and they might even ignore you when called. Other changes might include being territorial and overprotective. They could also become bullies and selective about playmates.

Puppies, puberty
Adolescent dogs full of energy

Stimulation during puberty

Pubescent dogs are excessively energetic, and both physical and mental stimulation are crucial. They want to play, learn new tricks and explore new places. Socialization with other dogs and people should be part of you and your pup’s routine. A sudden fear of things and people that were no problem previously can become evident. Your four-legged teenager’s development at this stage will determine its character as an adult dog. This is the time for gaining confidence, emotional development and learning who they can trust.

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