When hormones start & interactions with other dogs change

As they grow up, our little fluffy friends start to experience some important hormonal changes — just like us!

Got a little teenage hooligan on your hands? Hormonal surges can have some very noticeable effects on our canine companions’ behaviour, so here’s what to look out for after a few months.

Your puppy’s hormones — what to expect

Depending on breed, around the four month mark, male puppies start to produce ever-increasing amounts of testosterone. These will peak around 10 months, and then settle at a lower, adult level.

These increased hormones lead to more energy and playfulness, as well as more exaggerated responses to almost everything they encounter. Puppies usually become more bold and adventurous, increasingly interested in their surroundings.

In female dogs, the increasing levels of oestrogen can cause them to appear irritable or annoyed. In some young female pups, this can cause them to start resource guarding — anger or aggression to warn us away from their ‘treasure’.

The hormones flooding our pups’ bodies can cause them to display aggression towards other dogs. Disobedience and destructiveness can be common behavioural challenges seen during this period.

These hormonal surges can cause our puppies to become much more distracted, reactive and guarding.

Challenges for owners & what you can do

According to research, dogs are most likely to be relinquished to animal shelters during their adolescent years — which shows you how challenging this period can be for owners.

  • Plenty of exercise — more now than ever, your furry pal is a big ball of energy. Giving them the opportunity to run all of this off will help them to act a bit more calmly during the day.
  • Show them a good example — no, this doesn’t mean the owners’ behaviour, but instead that of other well-behaved adult dogs! Our petit pooches learn very quickly from one another — so exposure to a calm, confident older dog can demonstrate to them the ‘right’ way to act. Being around other overly-energetic teenage puppies can cause them to bounce off each other — and not in a good way.
  • Keep on training — even though their responses may become a bit sloppier and they may be prone to distraction at times, keep persisting with your training regime to focus your pup.
  • Reward their calmness — time to crack out the doggy treats! Creating positive associations with polite, ‘good boy’ behaviour is always a good idea for helping to curb that outlandish adolescent behaviour.
  • Don’t stop socialising — the hormonal years for a dog can be strange. They may sometimes appear afraid of things they handled with ease only a few weeks ago. Regular walkies, therefore, can help to establish confidence through safe, repeated exposure and socialisation.

Finally, rest assured that your pup’s teenage hooliganism is most certainly a phase that will eventually pass. With patience and support, your hormone-fuelled adolescent will graduate into a settled, calm adult dog.