« Back to Puppies

20–23 Weeks: What to Expect From Your Puppy

Tips to Curb Your Puppy's Adolescent Urges :: Five Ways to Deter Your Puppy's Chewing :: How to Calculate Your Puppy's Adult Weight :: A Checklist for Getting Your Puppy Spayed or Neutered

Tips to Curb Your Puppy's Adolescent Urges

Puppies go through a growing pains period much like humans, though instead of listening to dark music and writing bad poetry, they knock you over and bark for no reason at all.

A puppy's adolescence can last 12 months, with the larger dogs lasting the longest. It means many of the same things as in human adolescence without the ability to self-reflect too much - confusion about a pup's place in his pack, raging hormones, erratic behavior and rebellion of a sort. Luckily, puppies don't have the stigma of embarrassment to haunt them like humans do.

A puppy's adolescence is a time in his life when experiences have a very lasting effect on him. It is crucial during this time to maintain your role as Alpha which provides security for him. You may see signs in a male puppy such as marking in the house, "macho" attitudes (to humanize them for a second), a rise in aggression, and a tendency to roam. In females, you're likely to see restlessness and nesting.

There are a few things that will help you both survive it:

  1. Train, Train, Train! - Help your puppy feel secure in his submissive role with training. Be sure to use a lot of praise. In both disciplining and praising, you'll find your pup is apt to be less responsive but when he does respond, he will likely be exuberant and an overall clown.

  2. Get Your Puppy Some Interactive Toys - Their high curiosity at this stage can be satiated with things like a Kong filled with treats or a hide-and-seek toy.

  3. Go to New Places with Your Puppy - He's ready to go and you've already been working on his manners so take him on a new hike or to a new outdoor restaurant where he can smell the hamburgers and dream.

  4. Exercise Til You Both Drop - It's a great time to start the running regime you tore out of a magazine a month ago. Adolescent puppies have a great deal of energy that needs to be spent.

  5. Challenge Your Puppy - Bury toys under blankets and encourage him to find them. Add some new commands to your obedience training. Play a game of hide-and-seek in the yard and make it tough for him.

Whether you've got an adolescent puppy on your hands for a month or a year, unless you channel his energy, curiosity, and machismo, you'll have a tough time living trough it. An engaged puppy is a calm puppy and if you wear him out enough, you'll all get a good night's sleep.

And remember to enjoy your puppy's adolescence. Puppies at this age are a great deal of fun and are up for anything new.

Advice from Other Dog Owners 

How to Keep Your Puppy Off the Christmas Tree

Puppies should be supervised at all times. She or he should be crated while alone, leashed while you are around. Time to teach the "leave it" command. You will really mean it when you fear for the dogs safety! Baby gates might deter him - unless he's that curious kind that looks to defeat all confinement. If he's leashed it's easy to give a sharp leash correction if he goes near the tree. Put the tree up for a few days without trimming to get the dog used to it without risking fragile ornaments.

~Liz H., owner of German Shepherd mix


When Puppies Lose Their Teeth

Puppies have a full set of 28 milk teeth - 4 canines, 12 incisors and 12 molars. The incisors and canines grow in first, the molars last. At around three to four months of age, your dog is going to start losing milk teeth and growing in her adult set of teeth, which consists of a total of 42 teeth - a lot more than the puppy teeth she has. The first to fall out are going to be her incisors, her front teeth. She will start growing her adult incisors first. Around four to five months of age you will see her adult molars and canines to grow in. By about six months, she should have her full set of adult teeth.

~Chris & Brian C., owner of German Shepherd

Add Your Own Advice 


Comment headline
Your comment
Submitted by
Owner of