As sweet as our adolescent dogs usually are, they can have a whole lot of attitude sometimes. And it turns out, when they hit puberty, pups tend to act a lot like teenagers. Do you know how some teens push back on boundaries? Well, one study finds that young dogs do it too.
A team of researchers led by zoologist Dr. Naomi Harvey, who specializes in companion animal behavior, believed the dog-owner connection would be similar to that of the parent-child relationship, so they studied potential guide dogs in the U.K. They worked with adolescent German shepherds, golden retrievers, and Labrador retrievers and all of these breeds go through puberty when they’re around six to nine months old.
After several experiments with young dogs, study authors found pups going through puberty were more likely to ignore their owners’ instructions and requests … just like a teenage human. The team discovered one group of dogs was twice as likely to ignore a “sit” cue when told to sit by their caregiver, not a stranger. But study authors don’t want their findings to scare any pet parents, just to help them prepare for the puppy’s transition to adult dog. “For dog owners, the critical message is that, yes, your dog is likely to exhibit some problem behaviors during adolescence, including reduced obedience, but it’s a completely normal part of the development,” Harvey explains. And the most important part to remember is that just like human teens, dogs will grow out of this phase.