Puppy's Terrible Teens
Just like with children, your puppy's terrible teens can be a trial! From about 4 to 6 months of age, it may seem that all his early training has gone out the window. He may be mouthing and biting more than ever. Maybe he’s more excitable and hard to control. Suddenly incapable of just walking on a leash, he may strain and lunge without paying any heed to your commands at all. As with all teenagers, you shouldn’t lose hope.
Be the Pack Leader
At this age, puppies are gaining independence and exploring the world. As they grow quickly, they seem to become more energetic every day. Also, experts say a dog passes through a second fear period at this stage, becoming inexplicably cautious and timid. These are normal symptoms of growing up - your puppy's terrible teens.
According to the Monks of New Skete (The Art of Raising a Puppy), it is very important that the pup has a strong, reassuring pack leader at this stage.
“Preliminary training, appropriate discipline, and a reassuring attitude are all key elements in helping your pup through this challenging period of his life.”
At 6 months of age, some experts also recommend that you spay or neuter a pup. Other experts recommend waiting until the animal is 18-24 months of age. Both sides of the argument claim benefits for the health of the dog and to curb unwanted behaviors.
We ask our puppy buyers to wait. That is because some studies have shown that in breeds like the German Shepherd, the bones tend to grow too long if the dog is spayed/neutered early. This places the animal at greater risk for dysplasia, something we work very hard to avoid. Some studies show that spaying early reduces the female’s risk of mammary cancer, but studies also show that spaying/neutering before 14 months can increase the risk of bone cancer in both males and females. Bone cancer is much more life-threatening that mammary cancer. So we ask buyers to let the puppy's sex hormones complete the dog's development.
Even if your puppy's terrible teens are driving you crazy, it's worth it to stay strong, consistent and keep training every day. Once he or she is through this phase, you will have a remarkable and well-adjusted young dog.