A dog is most likely to be surrendered to a shelter when it is between nine and eighteen months old. At this age dogs have grown out of the super-cute puppy stage and look like adults, but they don’t act adult, and families unprepared for this phase of life often give up. Adolescence can be as difficult for a dog as it is for a human.
Adolescent dogs are super-curious and want to discover the world with all their senses. They dig, they chew, run away to explore, jump, and challenge authority. For many, everything is a game, and their attention span is… squirrel!
On top of all this, they have so much energy it takes super-human stamina to keep up. This is when many give up, and instead of helping their dog to become a well balanced adult, they send their pet off to a shelter and probable death.
It is always important to choose a dog breed that works well for the family, but it is extra important when picking a puppy. Some breeds get through this period in life easier than others.
Working breeds are often particularly difficult; they have a lot of energy, high intelligence, and need a job. If they don’t get something appropriate to do, they will make something up. Some working breeds – like Border Collies – are often considered adolescents up until they’re three years old, so in addition to the difficult period being more intense, it also lasts longer.
So, how do you survive, stay sane, and keep your dog?
Provide plenty of exercise. Consider crating your dog when he or she is unsupervised. Keep training the dog, and make training sessions fun. Thinking games often wear dogs out better than physical exercise. Above all, remember that this is a phase that will eventually go away.