“Treat them kindly, you'll never
find better friends.”

Your growing pup has spent the last 45 minutes zooming around the dog run, and now he’s ready for a game of fetch with you. But not only is your pet a candidate for the canine Olympics, he’s taken to exploring and chewing everything in the house that isn’t nailed down. Even some of the training commands you worked so hard to teach him seem to be going in one ear and out the other. Relax-it’s not that you’re getting older, it’s that your pup is.

From the age of 6 to 18 months, dogs undergo adolescence. They have almost reached their adult height, and are busy shedding their puppy coats. All of their new teeth have grown in, but they’ll need to chew more than ever to properly set their teeth in the jawbone.

To help ease the transition from pup to adult, you should provide your pet with plenty of exercise. Arranging playtime with other dogs his age is great fun for all canines, involved, but do make sure they’re safe in an urban dog run or fenced-in yard. In-line skating and Frisbee fetching with human companions are other fun, high-energy activities.

Tiring out your canine teenager can also help solve many destructive behaviors, including chewing and digging. When bored or anxious canines are left alone indoors, they can wreak havoc on a house. If this sounds like your dog, it’s best to confine him to his training crate while you are away.

Hormones are a major contributor to your pet’s teenage temperament. Anywhere from the age of 8-12 months, females will go into heat for the first time, and males will begin to lift their legs when urinating.  You may also notice that your perfectly housebroken pup has been having accidents indoors. This is how male dogs mark their territories, and females do it to advertise for suitors. Also, the raging hormones may compel your pet to fight more with dogs of the same sex. Many of these behaviors can easily be prevented-simply by having your pet spayed or neutered. This operation can be performed by a veterinarian as early as 2 months – and should be done by 6-7 months.

A good sense of humor will come in handy during your dog’s adolescence, as will some extra patience. It’s normal for your canine teenager to experience occasional lapses of attention during your training sessions. When this happens, take a step back in the schedule and re-teach him the command he’s seemingly forgotten. If you must, lure or place him in the desired position. You’re more likely to get results if you keep your sessions short and, above all, fun. Positive reinforcement can work wonders, so do use toys and treats as lures. Be sure to end the lesson with his favorite game or a play session.