Do Dogs Go Through Puberty?

Written by Zoe Carina
Published: November 17, 2023
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As people, we go through adolescence over a prolonged period of time, years spent in the throes of mood swings, behavioral changes, and hormones. It might be surprising to learn that dogs go through similar changes during their adolescence. And that the process can take years.

So, do dogs go through puberty? The short answer is yes. Let’s dive deeper.

When do Dogs Go Through Puberty?

White dog Samoyed walks on the shore of the Baltic Sea

Your puppy might be more vocal during puberty.

©infinityyy/iStock via Getty Images

When your dog reaches puberty will depend on their breed. Some breeds will start this transition as soon as six months while others can take up to two years. The larger the dog, the longer it will take them to mature.

Within species, each dog is on an individual timeline. Some animals will start their journey to adulthood early. Others will start later than normal.

You can expect to help your dog through puberty for two to three years. Most behavioral changes will occur between six to 12 months.

Signs to Look For

Little american bulli puppy walks on the grass in the park.

Your puppy might become more stubborn during puberty.

©Sushitsky Sergey/Shutterstock.com

Before you bring a new puppy home, you should be aware of how the transition to adulthood will affect them. Their hormones will fluctuate significantly and that will alter their behavior.

If you know the signs to look for, you can support your animal during this period.

Inseminating Dogs

Female merle aussiedoodle puppy in the grass.

Your pup might start exploring outside their comfort zone during puberty.

©Jeff Caverly/Shutterstock.com

If your dog can get other dogs pregnant, you’ll notice behavioral changes during puberty. The inseminating dog will start the transition to adulthood anywhere from one month to one year. Most canines become sexually mature by five months (you’ll notice them start to lift their leg to urinate).

Behavioral signs to look for include:

  • Other dogs become aggressive towards them
  • Territory marking
  • Roaming
  • Mounting
  • Not listening

Your dog will also potentially experience anxiety, insecurity, jumpiness, and demolition behavior.

Puppies that can get other dogs pregnant are most fertile between 12 and 18 months.

Your dog can get other canines pregnant at all times, so fixing your pet is essential. Wait until your dog’s testicles descend, around three to five months, to do the procedure.

Dogs That Can Give Birth

Dog diapers

Your dog might pull on their leash more frequently during puberty.

©Firn/Shutterstock.com

If your dog can give birth, you can expect them to go into their first heat anywhere between six to 15 months. The specific timing depends on the breed and size of the pup. The heat will last three to four weeks.

Physical signs to keep an eye out for include:

  • Swelling/red genitals
  • Both clear and bloody discharge from genitals
  • Increased vulva licking
  • Increased urination
  • Excessive coat shedding (four to six weeks before heat)

Your dog might experience increased anxiety, playfulness, or possessiveness. They might also act territorial and have an abundance of energy.

Your furry friend can become pregnant during their first heat. Vets recommend waiting to fix your animal until after this period so they can reach sexual maturity and avoid health issues.

Behavioral Changes

Chihuahua and dash hound mix in sweater closeup

It might be harder to train your puppy during puberty.

©Orvlyn/iStock via Getty Images

No matter what kind of dog you own, some behavioral changes are common to all canines. Here are some signs your dog is going through puberty:

  • Trying to lead walks
  • Lashing out at other dogs
  • Jumping all over you
  • Running away when you call
  • Destroying anything they can
  • Staying glued to your side
  • Forgetting their training

How to Help Your Dog Through Puberty

YorkiePoo Pocket Puppy

Your pup is looking to you to guide them through this period.

©SoppySophie/iStock via Getty Images

When your furry friend is going through puberty, they are going through intense hormonal changes. Through signals, hormones regulate many processes within the body.

When transitioning to adulthood, these integral functionary parts are spiking and bringing huge changes to your dog’s life. The internal and external changes are so numerous that your pup can’t keep up.

Here is how you can help them through.

Prepare Supplies

Funny photo of cute little Golden Retriever puppy dog wearing pink bow and diaper romper

Dogs have bloody discharge during their heat cycles.

©GoodFocused/Shutterstock.com

It’s important to stock up on the necessities before your dog starts maturing. This way you can spend your attention on them rather than worrying about having everything you need.

If you have a dog that can get pregnant, you might be surprised to learn that they bleed (similar to humans). In this case, you’ll want to buy dog diapers for them. Reusable diapers are quite affordable, easy to wash, and come in a variety of colors and patterns.

In cases where your dog chews off the diaper, you can try a full-body option. They are antimicrobial and come in a variety of colors. They are good for all dog breed sizes.

For all dogs going through adolescence, you’ll want to stock up on puppy pads, teething toys, and treats. You might want to buy a journal for yourself so you can keep track of the journey.

Continue Training

Young woman training and playing with puppy on grass, in park. Rottweiler dog puppy details

Puppies are never too young to begin training.

©bogdanhoda/Shutterstock.com

Your dog is an intelligent animal that can start learning soon after being born. Before maturity, you can start teaching them commands like sit, down, stay, and drop it. You should also work on their obedience skills.

Consistency is key, so you’ll want to continue training your pup during puberty. They will probably act more stubbornly and might forget commands you’ve taught them before.

Be patient and understanding. Provide plenty of positive reinforcement through treats or playtime. Try to work on these skills several times a week and reward your canine for good behavioral choices.

Leash Skills

Stubborn beagle puppy pulling its leash with its teeth as if playing tug-of-war

Stubborn beagle puppy pulling its leash with its teeth as if playing tug-of-war

©Olena Kurashova/iStock via Getty Images

When they’re going through the throes of reaching adulthood, they will become feistier. This could include increased pulling on their leash during walks. Your pup might even try to lead you.

If this is the case, start by taking a deep breath. It can be frustrating to see your dog try to turn every walk into a game of tug-of-war.

You’ll want to emphasize to your pet that going for a walk is not playtime. If your dog chews on, pulls, or bites the leash, stop walking. Wait until they calm down and release the lead, then continue walking.

Use positive reinforcement to reward your animal for not biting the leash.

Introduce a Crate

dog in crate

Some dogs consider their crate a safe place.

©Jennay Hitesman/Shutterstock.com

If your dog has a crate, it can turn into their safe place during puberty. The dark, enclosed space might provide them with comfort as their hormones change drastically.

Chewing and Teething Toys

Puppy chewing on underwear

Your puppy will grow their adult teeth during puberty.

©iStock.com/Wavetop

Giving your puppy the best toys to chew and teeth on when they are going through puberty will go miles in making them feel more comfortable. They’ll be growing in their adult teeth during this period (around seven months), which can be painful.

Chewing and teething toys that hide treats inside also give your pup something fun to take their mind off of all the changes.

Mental and Physical Exercise

Excited Portuguese Water Dog puppy running in the grass

Puppies will have excess energy throughout puberty.

©Lynda McFaul/Shutterstock.com

Give your dog plenty of mental and physical stimulation during this period of their life. They will look to you to keep them occupied.

You can schedule extra walks (during times when there are fewer dogs out), give them puzzles to solve for treats, or take them swimming or hiking.

Dogs use a lot of energy sniffing, so give them plenty of opportunities to do so.

When to Fix Your Pup

My Baby Bear Puppy Pomsky

Your puppy will need a few weeks to recover after getting fixed.

©RoschetzkyIstockPhoto/iStock via Getty Images

It’s crucial to fix your pet, though some people might tell you not to. The most important factor to consider is not whether to fix your pet, it’s when. It’s recommended to get your dog fixed at around one year old.

For dogs that can get pregnant, wait until they’ve had one heat cycle. This way, the animal can finish growing.

All dogs finish growing between nine and 11 months. Hormones tell the growth plates to close and fixing before puberty interrupts that process. This could lead to potential orthopedic problems in the future.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © JStaley401/iStock via Getty Images

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About the Author

Zoe Carina is a writer at A-Z Animals who primarily covers plants, animals, and places around the world. Zoe has been a professional copywriter and freelancer for six years and holds a bachelors degree in communications from Florida State University, which they earned in 2019. A resident of Oregon, Zoe runs a blog called Intuitive Traveler, where they write about traveling and language learning.

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