Yes, with patience, you will get through your dog’s ‘teen’ years

German Shepherd

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We all know adolescence is a distinct phase in human development on the road from being a child to becoming an adult. All you need to do is talk to anyone who has ever been a teenager or parented a teen to understand it can be a challenging time of life.

But, when it comes to canines, we usually hear about puppies and dogs — not so much about the time in between.

Did you know that on the road from puppy hood to becoming an adult dog, pups, like humans, pass through adolescence? Dogs typically enter adolescence around 5 months old and emerge as fully formed adults between 2 and 3 years old

Skeletal growth and hormones change how dogs experience the world during their adolescence.

Much like early puppy development, what your dog experiences and learns in adolescence can affect behavior into adulthood. This makes adolescence one of the most critical time periods to continue forming a trusting bond with your pet, as challenging as it may be.

If it seems like your “teenage” pup is suddenly more stubborn or like they forgot all the basics they learned in puppy class, you may not be wrong.

Canine adolescence is often accompanied by behavior changes that can be perplexing for pet parents. Your once cuddly puppy may now have an endless amount of energy despite regular walks. Or what was once a cute puppy yip has become a non-stop boisterous bark.

Adolescence is a time when your dog may develop undesired behaviors. Excess mouthiness, jumping up, pulling on leash, destructive chewing and digging, and a fear response to new sights and sounds are some typical “teenage” dog behaviors that may arise.

Like parenting a human teen, caring for an adolescent pup requires patience.

“It’s the most difficult time to feel a connection with your pet” according to Rochelle Guardado, Pasadena Humane’s animal training manager. “It may feel as though they no longer care about you, but your dog’s brain is just going through a phase that makes it harder for them to access information.”

This adolescent phase is when we see many dog owners coming to the shelter saying they need to relinquish their pets due to behavior issues beyond their control. I imagine many humans would like to get rid of their children during the teenage years, too.

The good news is that it does get better! We try to offer support, training, and encouragement for these pet parents to stick through these trying times.

As difficult as it might seem, it’s important to remember to cherish the good times during your pup’s journey through adolescence.

“Make a list of all the things you love about your puppy and focus on creating more moments for playing, sharing and relaxing together,” Guardado recommends.

Working through your pup’s adolescence with patience, training and predictable daily routines leads to confident, calm adult dogs.

Keep your dog mentally healthy and physically fulfilled by providing plenty of toys, items to chew and scent activities.

Give them easy tasks to do and keep your training simple. Don’t be afraid to contact a certified professional trainer for assistance.

Pasadena Humane offers Adolescent Pup Workshops to help pet parents navigate their dog’s adolescence. These repeatable classes, designed for dogs between 5 and 9 months old, cover a revolving set of topics including leash handling, confidence building and staying calm during greetings.

If you want to help an adolescent dog in need, consider adoption! Thanks to our “Make Your Heart Happy” adoption promotion, the adoption fee for dogs (and other pets) age 6 months and older is just $14 through February 18.

View adoptable pets at


Dia DuVernet is president and CEO of Pasadena Humane.

This blog post originally appeared as a column in the Pasadena Star-News on February 16, 2024.