Teenage dogs also rebel.
New research finds that canines aren’t immune to the puberty blues: Pooches also act out when they go through adolescence just like their human best friends.
In a study published Wednesday in the journal Biology Letters, scientists from the UK’s University of Nottingham and Newcastle University present evidence that pups act out similarly to human teens when they are going through puberty. In the breeds researchers analyzed — Labradors, golden retrievers and crossbreeds of the two — these teen years generally occur when the canines are between six and nine months old.
While in their pubescent months, researchers found that dogs were more likely to ignore commands from their caregivers — but not strangers — and were overall harder to train. Dogs who felt insecure about their relationship to their owner, authors found, exacerbated the behavior. In pups, this is characterized by increased anxiety and attention-seeking when separated from an owner. Insecure female dogs had an increased likelihood of reaching puberty earlier, the authors found.
“This is a very important time in a dog’s life,” explains lead author Dr. Lucy Asher in a press release.
Owners should keep doggy puberty in mind before putting a pup in its adolescence up for adoption or going through the adoption process, the study adds.
“This is when dogs are often re-homed because they are no longer a cute little puppy and suddenly, their owners find they are more challenging and they can no longer control them or train them,” adds Asher. “But as with human teenage children, owners need to be aware that their dog is going through a phase and it will pass.”
The authors acknowledge that their research, while groundbreaking, is considered common knowledge by some.
“Many dog owners and professionals have long known or suspected that dog behavior can become more difficult when they go through puberty,” says co-author Dr. Naomi Harvey. “But until now there has been no empirical record of this. Our results show that the behavior changes seen in dogs closely parallel that of parent-child relationships, as dog-owner conflict is specific to the dog’s primary caregiver and just as with human teenagers, this is a passing phase.”
And yelling at your pooch won’t make it pass faster, studies show, it just will ruin their fluffy lives.
“It’s very important that owners don’t punish their dogs for disobedience or start to pull away from them emotionally at this time,” says Asher. “This would be likely to make any problem behavior worse, as it does in human teens.”
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