There's this strange time between puppy and adult that no one talks about.
Those sweet puppy features you fell in love with start to fade, but there's still so much puppy behavior left to age out of and work through.
People talk about how it's hard to have a puppy.
They keep you up at night, they chew on stuff, and they potty in the house. But they're small, they're cute, and it feels like a phase you can survive.
But no one really talks about adolescence.
They don't talk about the frustrations, the doubts, and the struggles that come with having a "teenage" dog.
Adolescent dogs can be rude, impulsive, and disengaged. They can embody all the bad stuff of puppyhood, but in a larger and more confident body.
It's the reason why dogs are frequently rehomed or relinquished to shelters between the ages of 6-10 months.
It's the reason we get many desperate calls from people struggling with their adolescent dogs.
But it doesn't have to be this way.
When you get a puppy, you sign up for all your dog's life stages, good and bad.
Along the way, you're going to feel every emotion possible, from joy to downright exasperation.
Adolescence is a phase like any other; it comes and it goes.
So how do you come through it (relatively) unscathed?
1. Reward what you like, and be sure you aren't reinforcing what you don't like. If an unwanted behavior is continuing, it's getting reinforced. Figure out what's reinforcing it.
2. Invest in good veterinary care, quality training, and be consistent with rules and boundaries right from the start.
3. Keep your pup mentally and physically engaged, but also require that they self-entertain at times.
4. Ideally, start training as soon as you get your pup.
Eventually, you'll look back on this phase with a smile, and maybe a sigh of relief.
But most of all, don't give up on that goofy, awkward adolescent pup of yours.
You'll be glad you stayed.