Not a puppy, not yet a full grown pooch — do you have a “teen” dog that acts just as bratty as if they were a human adolescent? According to a new study, that’s because canines go through the same moody side effects we do when dealing with the raging hormones of puberty.
It might sound like a setup for a joke, but researchers from the United Kingdom claim it’s 100 percent true. They explain in a press release that dogs display “increased conflict behavior, characterized by reduction in obedience, during puberty.” For example, Dr. Lucy Asher told the Guardian, “They are nearly twice as likely to ignore the ‘sit’ command when they are 8 months as compared to when they are 5 months… Perhaps they are not misbehaving just because they are naughty, but it is just like in humans — the hormones are raging and there are things going on in the brain.”
To come to this conclusion, study authors observed a variety of dogs — German shepherds, golden retrievers, Labrador retrievers, and mixtures of those breeds — between the ages of 6 to 9 months, when they are usually transitioning from puppy to puberty.
Like humans, the biggest factor in how much they act out seems to be based on how strong the bond is between pooches and humans. “Generally, teenagers that have a less secure relationship with their parents are those that are more likely to show more conflict behavior towards their parents,” Asher elaborated. “That’s the same finding that we have [between adolescent dogs and their carers].” For dogs, however, this can unfortunately cause owners to abandon them or drop them off at shelters.
The study wants to emphasize that, again, like human teens, this truly is just a phase that pups go through before fully maturing. “By the time dogs were 12 months old, their behaviour had returned to how they were before puberty, or in most cases, had improved,” they claim. Hey, that’s a lot quicker than most human teens grow out of their rebellious phases! Researchers hope that owners will keep this in mind before punishing or getting rid of any teen canine companions they clash with in the future.
This is also further proof that our furbabies really are basically our children, even if that means they aren’t always on their best behavior.