Troublesome Teens: Four Survival Tips

Two-legged kids are not the only ones to go through an awkward phase. Adolescence—usually thought of as the period from four months to two years of age, a little later for larger breeds—often feels like an honest-to-goodness teenage rebellion. Your young dog develops selective hearing, seems to forget manners they know well, and reverts to puppyish behavior like mouthing, jumping, barking, and destructive chewing. Disheartening as such apparent setbacks can be, remember that adolescence is a phase. It, too, shall pass. Meanwhile, here are five tips for keeping your sanity intact and raising a polite, easygoing adult dog:

Be consistent. Consistency in routines, training, and expectations is key. Just like human children, young dogs do better with boundaries and rules in place.

Practice Nothing For Free. Whatever your dog wants—dinner, treats, walks, belly rubs, play sessions, attention, a spot on the couch—have him ask for it nicely by sitting or doing some other behavior he knows. If he doesn’t listen, he doesn’t get the belly rub or treat or the ball thrown and will have to try again a few minutes later. Applying this rule consistently will motivate your dog to listen to you.

Take a class. Now is a great time to take training classes or engage with a private trainer to get tips and regular training time in. You wouldn’t consider your human children’s education finished after elementary school, right? Think of this time as junior high for your dog.

Pile on the exercise. The more doggie workouts you can fit in, the better behaved your dog is likely to be. Exercise is the antidote to adolescent hyperactivity. (Just consult with your vet before undertaking strenuous sports. Don’t go running with your dog until he is at least 18 months old, for example; it may damage bone development.)