The Adolescent Puppy

Teenage behaviour: how he’ll break the rules

Dogs passing through adolescence aren't exactly like surly teenagers (the two-legged variety), but there's a chance you'll have to endure some 'difficult' behaviour just the same. You might find, for example, that playfulness turns into boisterousness or even a little aggression. To your surprise there'll be pulling on the lead, or begging at the table, where there had been none for some time. Jumping up may be more of an issue than it was.

Your teenager (four-legged variety) is exploring the boundaries of what he can and can't do, trying to assert his authority. You need to curb this with firm reinforcement of basic training but also understand that, with the right control from you, the phase will pass and normality will break out once more.

The second fear period

In the wild a puppy's self-preservation mechanism often kicks in about this age to make the dog wary of predators he might soon face. In the home this characteristic (known as heightened awareness) can result in puppy suddenly becoming fearful of things that hadn't bothered him for months. The Hoover is frightening all over again and excited children have him scuttling for his crate before they're through the door. Again, this is a passing phase that you can help him through with your own display of calm patience.

Don't be tempted to make him confront his fears or provide him with too much reassurance - you'll either make him even more frightened or reinforce his irrational behaviour. Instead, increase his exposure to experiences gradually, gently rewarding any progress with verbal praise or a treat.

Training takes a step forward

Raising a puppy isn't all frustration and heartache, of course, and the fact that he's now a teenager means you should be able to build on the skills he's already learned. In fact, to not do so risks boredom, which in turn risks him chewing – bad news for shoes.

His listening skills and recognition should have improved to the extent that his retrieving, walking on the lead and response to basic commands will all take a step forward. In the next eight weeks or so he should be able to: Remain sitting as you walk away from him Look directly at your face when you require his attention Recognise individual names of family members Find hidden objects

Just one little note of caution – remember that he has a teenager’s attention span and is not yet physically the full ticket. Too much exercise could actually hurt his young bones.