Puberty in dogs: what you need to be aware of

Constantly testing boundaries and testing your authority – welcome to your dog’s puberty! But cheer up: with these tips you will better understand and educate your PuberTier during this difficult and stressful time.

The onset of puberty in dogs depends on the breed and the individual animal. The strenuous period starts about after puppyhood, when all milk teeth have fallen out and 42 permanent teeth have erupted.

In general, the rule is that smaller dog breeds enter the age of defiance a little earlier (about six months of age) than larger dog breeds (about twelve months).

Interesting to know: Puberty in dogs is a part of the so-called adolescence. While puberty ends when the dog reaches sexual maturity, adolescence lasts until adulthood begins and the dog reaches breeding maturity.

How does puberty manifest itself in dogs?

It’s not just teenagers who become rebellious and demanding during puberty – sooner or later, your furry friend will also become a puber animal. Typical signs are when your dog suddenly shows different behaviors, unlearns learned commands and tests all his limits.

When your dog enters puberty, his behavior may suddenly change:

  • Your pelt-nose marks more often during walks.
  • Your darling can be motivated faster and easier.
  • Although your dog had already learned to be alone, he now howls when you leave the room or scratches at the doors.
  • Your four-legged friend seems more self-confident and explores his surroundings without paying attention to you.
  • When playing, he deals with dogs differently than before, for example, more dominant or more fearful.

What do I have to pay attention to during puberty in a dog?

If you don’t want your pubescent dog to dance on your nose, clear rules are mandatory throughout the defiance phase. For this to work, everyone in the household, such as partners or children, must abide by them.

We give you five important rules that you should absolutely follow during puberty:

  1. Show your dog that he can feel safe with you. In case of danger (for example, aggressive leashed dogs), actively stand in front of him and at the same time keep calm.
  2. Make sure your dog feels safe comfortable at home. Here is a list of best dog bed for beagle.
  3. Always go ahead as the leader of the pack.
  4. Consolidate the basic commands you have learned so far, such as sit, here, down and stay. Gladly also with the help of treats.
  5. Make sure that your dog has enough contact with other dogs.
  6. Deliberately build in rest periods so that your dog can get used to later everyday situations.

If you have difficulty asserting yourself against your rebellious young dog, regular visits to a dog school or a professional dog trainer can also help.

What happens in the body during puberty in dogs?

After the puppy phase, the body begins to reshape its hormonal balance. The goal of this hormonal change is to reach sexual maturity at the completion of puberty.

The Gonadotropin Releasing Hormone (GnRH)

GnRH is produced in the brain and causes the previously non-functional sex organs to be activated. They begin to produce their own sex hormones, which in turn influence the brain.

The sex hormones of males (testosterone) and females (estrogen and progesterone) cause the part of the brain responsible for emotions to grow and dogs to react more intensively to external stimuli.

In contrast, the functionality of the cerebral cortex, which normally controls conscious and voluntary action, decreases. Pubertal dogs therefore have poorer impulse control than already adult dogs.

The cortisol

The concentration of cortisol, a stress hormone produced in the adrenal cortex, also increases in the blood during puberty in dogs. This is the reason why your dog suddenly reacts stressed to loud noises like car horns, even though he had no problems with them as a puppy.

The dopamine

Although the amount of the happiness hormone dopamine is not increased, the amount of responsible receptors in the brain increases. It is normally responsible as an important nerve messenger for linking experiences positively. Since it has an increased influence on the brain during puberty in dogs, you can more easily excite its reward system with treats or praise, for example.

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