New Study Finds Dogs Go Through Moody 'Teenage' Phase When They Hit Puberty

"What we found is evidence that dogs do show a period of reduced obedience towards their owners," one researcher explained


Is your dog suddenly acting up? They may be going through puberty.

A new study conducted by a group of U.K. universities found that dogs may go through a "teenage" phase — similar to that of human teenagers —when they reach puberty.

Researchers looked at 69 dogs before adolescence, at 5 months old, and then again during their adolescence, at 8 months old. They found that in adolescence, the pups took longer to respond to the "sit" command even if they knew how to do it.

The group also conducted a questionnaire with 285 dog owners, which revealed similar results, that animals going through puberty were harder to train.


"What we found is evidence that dogs do show a period of reduced obedience towards their owners and this is specific to their owners not to other people," Zoologist Dr. Naomi Harvey, one of the researchers, told BBC's Newsbeat, explaining that when a stranger was present, the dogs would not act out. She called this the dog version of "taking it out on your mum."

"It is associated with all of the issues going on inside the dog during puberty," Harvey added. "The hormonal fluctuations and the remodeling of the brain to become an adult brain cause a lot of issues."

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Lucky for pet owners, the study explained that this phase only lasted throughout puberty and that pups became more obedient again after their adolescence.


"This is a very important time in a dog's life," Dr. Lucy Asher, an animal behavior scientist who led the study, told the BBC. "This is when dogs are often rehomed 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."

"But as with human teenage children, owners need to be aware that their dog is going through a phase and it will pass," she explained.

Her advice for pet parents dealing with a moody teenage pup is to use positive reinforcement with their dogs during this time, rather than punishing their pet for bad behavior.

"We would suggest people remain consistent and use rewards rather than punishing their dog," she said. "It's important to remember it's not the dog deliberately behaving badly it's just their biology. In general, we'd ask owners to be kind to their dog during this time and understand it's just a passing phase."

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