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Dog puberty is similar to humans', and cannot be overlooked, study warns

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A study of the changes of dog behaviour during canine puberty will aid our understanding of the changes seen of adolescent humans, says researcher.

By Nick Whittle

Published on the 21/05/2020, 10:00, Updated on the 08/02/2021, 13:28

Changes of dog behaviour at puberty are already observed. But Newcastle University’s Dr Lucy Asher, co-author of research published last week, takes our understanding a step further.

She cites the results of the study as paving the way for grander studies of the changes that take place during human puberty. Dr Asher also warns that canine misbehaviour at puberty is not properly understood. 

Ain’t misbehavin’

Puberty usually comes about when the dog is between seven months and two years of age, which, says Dr Asher, is the age at which the majority of dogs are abandoned or relinquished to shelters.  

In her summing up of the research Dr Asher goes on to state that the welfare of dogs that are given up due to changes in their behaviour could be compromised by this abandonment. And dogs that are trained by punishment-based processes may have long-lasting behavioural problems. 

Trouble in paradise? If your dog is misbehaving read our advice about why dogs growl

Talking to The Guardian, Dr Asher said, “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.”

Although much of Dr Asher’s work was questionnaire based, her findings are of interest to dog trainers and owners alike. It is hoped the study’s revelations will educate more people in the ways of dog puberty and lead to a drop in the number of animals resigned to shelters.