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If you've been following this blog, then you know I love littermates. We're raising 2 sets of littermates and the second time around was much easier than the first time around.
Scout and Zoey are 9.5 months old and officially in adolescence and it kind of blows, but not nearly as much as when Rodrigo and Sydney hit their teen years.
In our experience, our dogs hit adolescence between 9 – 11 months old. The worst part of this time lasts about 3-4 months. This time makes me question my logic when I thought littermates was a great idea. This is the time when I wonder if my dogs love me. And this is the time that made me think male dogs are harder to raise than female dogs.
Not true, but I wonder.
What we experienced when each of our dogs reached adolescence…
- difficulty hearing
- desire to roam (mostly the boys)
- easily distracted
Rodrigo and Sydney – Border Collie / Blue Heeler and Labrador / Blue Heeler
When Rodrigo and Sydney reached adolescence, Sydney was easy to manage and Rodrigo made me question our decision to adopt littermates and at one point I considered rehoming him – I called our dog trainer instead.
It took several sessions and a lot of retraining (of me) to make it through this period. Today, Rodrigo is an amazing, well behaved dog.
Scout and Zoey – Australian Shepherd / Catahoula Mix
Now that Scout and Zoey have reached adolescence, we're getting a reminder of what this period is all about. But it's not as hard as the first go around.
Scout has developed a hearing problem and Zoey can't keep her front paws on the floor. But this time around, I have a lot more confidence, a firm leadership voice, and I understand that consistency is key to managing a pack.
Tips on dealing with adolescent dogs…
If you are in the midst of adolescence or if it's fast approaching, here are a few tips that might help:
- get in touch with your dog trainer – s/he will be your best friend for a few weeks to months.
- practice grounding yourself – yes, this sounds woo woo, but it really helps to be focused on the moment; I found that the more “in the moment” I am, the better the dogs listen to be and behave.
- develop a leadership voice – no high pitched screaming; it scares the dogs and freaks out the neighbors. J helped me with my voice and now I'm amazed that the dogs listen to me so consistently.
- create a consistent routine – our dogs do really well when they know what to expect from us day to day.
- get lots of exercise – a well exercised dog is a well behaved dog; it's also great for the humans too. It may be overkill, but I joined 2 gyms – one in Seattle and one in Marysville (I got a killer deal). I never have an excuse not to work out.
And most of all, be patience with your dog(s) and yourself. It's a learning process and the learning never ends.
How did you make it through your dog's adolescence?