What Can I Expect in My Dog’s Adolescence?

Help Your Canine Cope

Socialization is the key to helping your dog cope with his adolescence. While many people focus on this in early puppyhood, without continued socialization, dogs can become wary of things they were once comfortable with. So be sure your dog continues to be exposed to a variety of new canines and humans.

Equally important to your adolescent pup is training. Dogs will do what works to get them what they want; your job is to teach your pooch that only calm behavior, such as sitting politely or lying down, earns him the reward he desires. For example, your dog should be taught to wait calmly in a sit while the door is opened if he wants to go on a walk. Training needs to be more than just a five-minute session once a day — instead, make training part of your dog's daily life and interaction with all of the members of your household.

For more difficult behaviors — such as responding to the directive to come when called — your dog will need more motivation than the simple pat on the back and “good dog” that worked during puppyhood. Employ value rewards like a game of fetch or tasty dog treats. Once he returns to you, reward him for coming and then let him go again to keep enjoying his play session.

Exercise and mental stimulation are also necessary to channel adolescent energy. Your dog should be taken out on twice-daily walks; be sure to get out during the cooler parts of the day, rather than in the heat, so that he can get as much exercise as possible. He should also be given a variety of toys to play with, including rope toys, balls, plush toys and squeaker toys. Rotate the toys to keep your dog interested. Finally, put a small percentage of your pup's daily food ration into a food puzzle to help keep his mind active. Give him a stuffed Kong or other cavity food toy once or twice per day.

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