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Puberty or Puperty?

Teenage pups...

PUBERTY OR PUPERTY, the challenges of the young

Today we are talking about puppyhood and the difficulties for our hooman pawrents…Of course, I was never such naughty teen-pup, but my little sister Bohemia is a rebel with paws and always up to some mischief.

But as I just learned, this is normal and part of the puberty. Or shall we say ‘puperty’.

Woooof, your Cooka



According to a new study, fur-kids going through puberty can become just as disobedient and naughty as hooman teens. But there is some good news! Your pup’s misbehavior during those first 12 months is absolutely normal and a passing phase.

The new study, published in The Royal Society journal Biology Letters and titled “Teenage dogs – Evidence for adolescent-phase conflict behavior and an association between attachment to humans and pubertal timing in the domestic dog” found striking similarities to hooman kids.

Dr. Naomi Harvey, a zoologist with a specialty in companion animal behavior and welfare says that it’s crucial for new dog pawrents to be aware of this ‘puppy-teenage phase ‘, because sadly, this is most commonly also the age when young pups end up in shelters – as many hoomans cannot deal with naughty doggies.

“The teenage brain (no matter of human or dog) undergoes huge changes that impact behavior, reducing impulse control and heightening emotions,” says Dr. Harvey. “Our theory was that behavioral challenges at this time could strain the dog-hooman relationship, potentially increasing risk of relinquishment or future behavior problems. Speak to many dog owners or trainers and they’ll tell you they’ve witnessed behavioral breakdowns in adolescent dogs, but such changes haven’t been documented scientifically before now,” she said.



Her team’s research included collecting behavioural data on trainee guide dogs during their first year of their life, then using that information to see whether dogs show a breakdown of obedience towards their owners when they go through ‘puperty’, and if there are any similarities to teenage kids.

Dr. Harvey collected behavioral data of more than 285 puppies that were in training to become guide-dogs, when they were just 5 months (this is called pre-puberty), 8 months (during puberty) and 12 months (also called post-puberty) of age using various means including validated behavior questionnaires, completed both by their hooman and their Guide Dog puppy-teacher.

And what was the conclusion? Pretty much what all dog-pawrents already know – These dogs did become less obedient during puberty and luckily it was just a passing phase.

“What might surprise some people though is that we found this reduction in obedience was socially specific,” Dr. Harvey said. “They only behaved worse for their owners during puberty, as they still behaved well for other people—much like how human teenagers might behave poorly for their parents but well for strangers.”

Pretty shocking, right? Or could it be, since they love us hooman pawrents the most, they need to show the naughtiness even more?



From a scientific standpoint, Dr. Harvey said there was one finding that was particularly exciting – a pawrent’s relationship with their doggie has a physical impact on the animal’s development. 

“The dogs who had signs of what we call an ‘insecure-attachment’ to their people,” which Dr. Harvey explains is characterized by the animal following the person all the time and high levels of attention seeking, “entered puberty when they were younger than dogs with more secure attachments.” Dr. Harvey said this discovery “parallels with what hooman psychologists have reported when they look at parent-child relationships and puberty timing, but in this case the effect is across species, with the hooman in the role of the pawrent and the dog as the child.” 



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"a dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself"
Josh Billings
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