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Common Challenges With Teenage Dogs
As with humans, dogs go through some very challenging teenage years. Some dogs are more prone to issues during their teenage years whereas other breeds are generally obedient and calm dogs all through their life. A dog's teenage years are typically between 1 1/2 to three years of age, but this varies between breeds. Some of the typical behaviors that can be expected from teenage dogs include:
· Chewing - since a teenage dog is usually still getting their adult teeth they may have an increased desire to chew to both assist with the teeth coming in as well as deal with some of the pain that may accompany this. By providing lots of chew toys and playing with the dog with the toys you can teach the teenage dog what is OK to chew before they start in on the furniture, cell phone and remote control for the TV.
· Dominance - often males are trying to establish their place in the pack, which is your family. They may try to become dominant by ignoring your commands, becoming aggressive towards humans or even other pets in games, and jumping up or biting. Obedience training, firm behavior expectations and praise for the right behavior will help curb this. Avoid any games such as tug-of-war or wrestling type games that encourage the dog to compete against people.
· Sexual development - in males this may be exhibited by marking type behaviors including in the house. Teenage male dogs may also "mount" other dogs, pets, or even attempt to do the same to people. This behavior is usually quickly curbed by neutering the male or by isolating them when they are exhibiting these behaviors. Females may begin to act "flirty" or may try to engage male dogs in play. They may also show signs of false pregnancy as well as come into their first "heat". Females need to be kept isolated at this time if they are not spayed, as they are capable of becoming pregnant.
· Possessiveness - the adolescent dog may begin to become very possessive of both your property and you as its family. While this is usually somewhat desirable these dogs tend to be far too aggressive. By continuing with obedience training and continually socializing the teenage dog it is possible to change this behavior and shape it to something positive.
Planning for a teenage dog is just like planning for a puppy. By anticipating the various problematic behaviors and having a plan on how to respond to the behaviors when they occur will really be beneficial.
Good socialization will continue to be an ongoing need for teenage dogs. Many people mistakenly isolate their dogs at this time to avoid having to deal with the training issues. The result is likely to be a more aggressive and less compliant dog when they reach adulthood. Keep your dog involved in obedience classes and regular interactions with other dogs, pets and people. Take them with you and allow them to experience many different events and activities to help them mature into a well-rounded and obedient companion.