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Surviving the Puppy Teenage Phase & Rebellious Stage | Pupford

January 9th, 2024

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If you’ve found yourself wondering why your pup has started to ‘rebel’ or digress with their behaviors, you may be experiencing the puppy teenage phase.

This rebellious stage often occurs in conjunction with your dog going through puberty, and can bring about a whole host of challenges.

You may often see your dog willingly defying you, trying to stretch their limits more, and generally acting more erratically. Luckily, there are some tips that will help you survive this often challenging puppy phase!

Here's what we're gonna cover:

  • Overview of the teenage phase
  • Do dogs actually have a "teenage" phase?
  • Can you avoid this rebellious phase?
  • How to survive the dog teenager phase

Let's do it. ⤵️


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three tips for surviving the puppy teenage phase | Pupford

Before we dive into some common questions about the teenage dog phase, let's look at some must-knows.

When your adolescent dog starts becoming more rebellious, consider doing this:

  • Decrease freedom and access
  • Increase training frequency and practice
  • Try new things

Now, let's dive into all things teenage dog phase. ⤵️

🐶 Need training help? Sign up for the 100% free online dog training course 30 Day Perfect Pup. Sign up now! 🐶


A group of researchers set out to determine if the teenage, rebellious phase was a real thing or just a term. What they found was that there is a strong connection between certain time periods of a dog’s life, and how they behave. You can read the full study here.

Generally speaking, puppies go through the ‘teenage phase’ at about 7-10 months. But keep in mind, that time frame will vary depending on a host of factors including gender, breed, environment, etc.

What the researchers found is that when compared to a puppy’s behavior at 5 months, many pups willingly defied cues from their pup parent at around 8 months old.

Additionally, many self-surveyed pup parents reported an increase of rebellious behavior from their pups around that same time period.

So, yes… the puppy teenage phase is real.

Related Reading: Struggling with a potty regression? Learn about bell training a dog here.


pretty puppy on a white background | Pupford

While there are some things you can do to make the rebellious phase less rebellious, this phase is often out of your control.

Your dog’s hormones, chemicals, brain activities, etc. often play a role in this teenage phase and that is completely out of your control.

Related Reading: How Long Are Dog Years?


While there isn’t one silver-bullet answer to surviving this phase of rebellion, there are some things you can do to help make the time more successful.

1. Decrease freedom
2. Increase training
3. Try new things


Often right as our pups are starting to get better at certain behaviors, we start to give them more freedom.

That can be freedom in the home, freedom off-leash, freedom with choices, and other things.

Unfortunately, when you combine a rebellious teenage puppy with newly added freedoms, you create a recipe for disaster!

While it can be enticing to want to give your pup more freedom, I recommended sticking to what you know has worked for the first months of your pup’s life. That means sticking to crating your dog while you aren’t home, not letting them off-leash, and generally keeping boundaries for your pup.


Similar to decreased freedom, often a helpful solution for the puppy's teenage phase is to increase your training routine.

Again, we often start getting complacent with our pup’s behavior right about the time they’re going to hit the teenage phase. We start to think they’re performing well, and we get lazier with our training.

That is totally normal, but should be avoided if possible!

The 7-10 month age range is the perfect time to buckle down on training and really commit to consistency. If you can keep up with training consistently for the entire first year of your dog’s life you will be so happy you did!

🐶 Need training help? Sign up for the 100% free online dog training course 30 Day Perfect Pup. Sign up now! 🐶


The first 6 months of my dog Scout’s life, she couldn’t care less about fetch.

We tried everything to get her interested, but it didn’t stick.

And then right when she hit about 7 or so months, a switch flipped. She fell in LOVE fetch!

Just because something worked (or didn’t work) at the beginning of your puppy’s life, doesn’t mean it will always be that way.

So if you find your pup going through a particularly rebellious phase, try out some new things. Introduce new training techniques, play new games, try new toys, test out new treats, etc.!

Dogs change, and we should try to lean into that change as much as possible!


puppy in the backyard ready to go poop | Pupford

The puppy teenage phase is a real part of puppyhood that you should fully anticipate.

And while you can’t stop it from happening completely, you can take steps to reduce the problems and issues that arise.

1. Reduce freedom
2. Increase training (
sign up for the free 30 Day Perfect Pup course here)
3. Try new things

How have you survived the puppy teenage phase? Let us know in the

🐶 Need training help? Sign up for the 100% free online dog training course 30 Day Perfect Pup. Sign up now! 🐶


Devin: Hello, pup parents and welcome to today's episode of the Perfect Pup Podcast. My name is Devin. This has got to be one of the most asked about topics we get in our Facebook community, puppy teenage phase. In this episode, I'm going to talk to you about what that is, why it potentially happens, what the science actually says about this behavior. And of course, some things you can do to survive the puppy teenage phase. So let's get right into it.

First things first. I did this as a previous episode on a previous podcast and reposted it. I actually have some updated information in that episode. I had mentioned that there wasn't a whole lot to say about people thinking, "Oh, is this actually our dogs wanting to be rebellious? Is there actually intent with them?" There are actually some research that shows that our dogs really do go through a rebellious period, a teenage phase. And that is very congruent with human teenage phases, is that it's related to puberty, and it's related to some of the chemical changes and the way that even our dog's brains are changing at this time.

First things first, the teenage phase is real. The teenage phase exists, and we'll talk a little bit more about that. But a lot of people will ask, "Well, when is the teenage phase?" It, again, will be dependent on your dog because every dog, like every human, hits puberty at a different time. And there are a whole host of other factors as well. But generally speaking, most people will see it in that seven to 10 month age range. Again, every dog is different, but that is when most people see it.

And there was actually a group of researchers who set out to say, "Is this real, or is this just something that people are thinking they're experiencing?" And I'll link to the actual study because it's got a lot of good information in there that I'm not truthfully qualified to really dissect and dive into. But the parts that were eye-opening to me, they took around, I believe it was 130 dogs, and basicall,y they did certain training things. They would have it be things practicing like sit, or come, or whatever it might be. And they tested it at month five, month eight, and then month 12.

And they tested each of these behaviors with different people as well. So one time with the actual carer, so the pup parent per se. The other time with just a different person who that dog wasn't used to. One fallback on that is that the other person in this study was a dog trainer, so potentially it could have related to why the results happened the way that they did and they mention that in the study.

But what they found is that dogs who had learned these behaviors, so it was clear that they had a track record of performing these behaviors, in this instance they used sit. They found that at eight months there was sometimes a higher likelihood of the dog not doing that behavior, compared to five and 12 months. And what was more interesting is that the digression or the worsening of behavior was more tied to when that was done with the carer and not with the other person. Meaning, there is something going on there between our connection with our dogs and what's happening to them at the puppy teenage phase and how they're behaving.

Like I said, there's a lot of factors, there's a lot of science to it, but generally speaking, our dogs are changing chemically, their brain patterns can be changing. There's a lot that's happening to them in that time of puberty and how they are developing and changing. And it can affect their behavior, especially when it comes to,quote-unquote, dog behavior, how they're behaving with things like barking or reactivity or tricks, or whatever it might be. Training type things.

To answer the question of can you avoid it? Truthfully the answer is no, because like I mentioned, this study is showing a connection that there is something chemical going on there. It is tied to just the natural changes within our dogs' minds and bodies. With that being said, there are some things that you can do to survive the puppy teenage phase, because you will probably see a lot of forums or get in communities or talk to other pup parents and they'll say, "Oh yeah, be ready. You think your dog's doing great at five, six months old, but wait until they hit that teenage phase." It can be challenging. It can be very, very difficult.

So I'm going to give you a couple ways to increase the likelihood of having a more successful puppy teenage phase. The first thing that I'm going to recommend is giving less freedom. And let me back up a tiny bit here as well and say, although there is some scientific evidence that's showing there is actually this kind of ... the change and the things that go along with puberty, I also believe, in my opinion, and my experience and what I've seen with other people's dogs, months three, let's say three through six, people are really, really into training, because they know they need to be.

And I'm going to describe myself here because I fell victim to this. But those first few months you have your dog, you're really on top of the training and you're like, "I'm going to work on all these tricks. I know I need to do it." You're putting in the time, you're putting in the effort. And then your dog starts to improve and you start to see, "Oh wow, they're coming more frequently when I ask them to. They're doing better on a leash. They are starting to learn some tricks. This is great." And naturally, when things start to get better, we often get complacent. I am a firm believer that that is a big part of the puppy teenage phase, but I'm not discounting that there are some things that are out of our control when it comes to our dogs.

With that being said, like I was saying, oftentimes we start to get complacent with our training and with our behavior in general. And often that means we're giving more freedom. I've talked about this on previous episodes. So many times the more freedom we give, the more problems occur. Again, if your dog doesn't have access, for example, to a pair of shoes, they can't chew them up. It's impossible if they don't have access to it. And so I think a lot of times, as our dogs age, we want to give them more freedom, we want to allow them to be more of a dog. And it is a trap, because oftentimes they're just not ready for it.

And I'm not saying you should never give your dog freedom. I'm just saying that puppy teenage phase is going to happen and you need to be prepared for it and understand, "Hey, you know what? I might be wanting to give more freedom, but maybe now isn't the time. Maybe I stick with what's been working for the first three, four months of my dog's life. And let's continue that on until your dog is more mature and just sticking with not giving the freedoms." Using a crate, using playpens or dog doors even, or baby gates. Not letting your dog off leash, not giving too much freedom. It's a key, key, key component of having a successful experience with the puppy teenage phase.

The next thing, and it's similar to it, is just doubling back down on your training. Like I said, I did this as well. Your dog hits six, seven months old and you're starting to think, "Wow, they're doing pretty well." And maybe you start training less. And you're still going to do things, but you're not as adamant about the training schedule as you maybe were previously.

And so if you're struggling with the puppy teenage phase, that is the biggest piece of advice that I can give you, is get back to the basics. So on top of not giving too much freedom, you've got to get back to the basics. And you know what that is for you and your dog. It's finding that consistency, it's finding the time to train every day, even if it's only five to 10 minutes for a dedicated training session. It's knowing what the problems are that your dog still has and setting up training instances where you can work on those things before you're dealing with an issue or a problem. And those two things are really going to be super helpful with the puppy teenage phase.

On top of that, it's a good time to just try out new things with your dog. What worked well when they were a puppy, a young puppy, and as they get into the teenage age, it may be time to just switch things up. Maybe that means trying different types of toys, or maybe your dog will start to develop more of an interest in fetch. That happened with my dog, Scout. The first six months of her life we could barely get her to fetch. We were doing all the things we were supposed to, trying all the different techniques to really get her to like fetch and to learn to bring the ball back and all the things that go along with it. And then it just clicked. And looking back, that happened during her teenage phase.

I think, again, puberty, the changing of our dog's brains, things that are happening as they age, it kind of just started to click for her. And she started to understand, "Oh, I really do like fetch." And so we leaned into that. We started doing fetch more frequently and using it as a training technique. Using it for recall, using it for impulse control, those types of things.

So switch things up with your dog and don't be afraid to maybe throw out what has worked in the past and try new things, try different techniques. There's a lot of different really, really good dog trainers out there who are good on social media. They're on Instagram, they're on TikTok, they're on YouTube. Maybe one method that they taught you that you used for your puppy works, another one may not. But switch it up, try different things with puppy.

And above all, I want to give a reminder here. I think it's so important to have the assurance that it will get better. Because the puppy teenage phase, it's not forever. You may be dealing with regression. You may be dealing with potty accidents in the house that haven't happened in a long time, or starting to chew on things they're not supposed to again, even when you thought you'd overcome that. It will get better. The puppy teenage phase is not forever. So stick with it, be patient with your dog and just get back to the basics. Don't give too much freedom, recommit to training more frequently. And try out different things with your dog and see if there's other techniques or even games or types of play that you can do with your dog that are going to engage them, and they might be more interested as they're going through this change in their life.

And in any instance in life when our dogs are going through a change, whether you're moving somewhere or they're physically having these changes that come with the teenage phase, be patient with them. Give them opportunities to succeed and do as much as you can to set them up for success. And give yourself some credit as well. It can be very, very frustrating and challenging when you are going through the puppy teenage phase. Know that it will get better, so stick with it.

I hope you enjoyed this episode. If you have not already, please, leave a review on Apple Podcasts. I read every single one of them. If you have ideas for an episode, that's actually the best place to leave the idea, is leaving a review on Apple Podcasts and giving me your idea for the episode and I'll get to it when I can. But other than that, we will catch you on the next episode.


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