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the Dog Blog

5 Tips for Those Awkward Teenage Puppy Months

Two dogs playing with their toys

Life with a puppy is a time of energy and fun, with some ups and downs thrown in. Just when you think you have solved or trained for a behavior your puppy is exhibiting, they seem to go back to being a blank slate. This can be especially true when your puppy is around 4-6 months and again around the 12-14 month mark. Here are our top 5 "teenage" tips to help you and your new best friend get through some of the key challenges you might face together. Just remember this is most likely just a stage they are going through and, if you're firm and consistent, this too shall pass. The bond you are building together, through all of this, will last a lifetime.

1. Leader of the Pack

You may notice your puppy becoming more social within her new pack (whether it be at the park, on walks or with your other best friends in the household). This can include play-fighting and tests of dominance with you and her new housemates. She is testing her boundaries – and now’s the time to demonstrate that you are the pack leader. Creating a leader of the pack (you!) situation shows your puppy that she is not the dominant one in your relationship and will make your leadership role a bit easier in a future!

2. Play-Biting

Play-biting has also been known to escalate during the "teenage" puppy months. Be sure to correct the behavior immediately indicating to your puppy that what he just did was the incorrect behavior; which provides a connection with the correction to give your puppy the fullest sense of her actions. We find the hardest part is consistency – but it’s a must!

3. Hide Your Shoes

Between teething and your dog's natural chewing instinct, your new best friend may have a tendency to chew her surroundings (and your favorite pair of shoes). Providing suitable chew toys to occupy her and relieve the slight discomfort of teething will help keep the temptation to chew "other" things at bay. (Fun Fact: She may seek out your most valued things that are saturated with your scent as a form of comfort during this time). We recommend you maintain a level head if you find her chewing on a beloved item in your house. Correct her immediately by taking the item from her and giving her an acceptable chew toy to play with instead. This will help reinforce that chew toys are for chewing.

4. Not Quite Potty Trained

Around 4-6 months of age, your new best friend may start to mark and scent around the house. Even if you think she’s been successfully housebroken, this is can be part of her development phase. Call her out immediately if she starts to go inside inappropriately, take her out to where she is supposed to go and reward her when she is good. Stay consistent and make sure to use positive corrective behavior. A small treat, like Bil-Jac Little Jacs Training Treats, can go a long way to encouraging good habits. If this behavior continues, you may also want to check with your veterinarian to be sure there are no other issues that could be causing the mishaps.

5. Positive Rewards

Consistent, positive, reward-based training works well for maintaining calm and getting your puppy through her teenage months. You want to be your puppy's center of attention and the person she wants to please, and looks to for love and satisfaction. Be sure to check out more of our training tips here to learn tricks and corrective behaviors for your new best friend!

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