Normally, when people remind you that your puppy will grow up, they’re talking about the fact that your dog won’t be an adorable three-month-old forever. This post is all about the in-between stage. Your dog is still mentally a puppy, but he’s close to his adult size and full of doofy energy and enthusiasm for destruction. You think he’s going to be like this forever, but he’s not.
When rescues lament how hard it is to keep a puppy in their original home, they’re mostly talking about that awkward age where the dog stops being a cute little baby and starts chewing on everything. Adolescent dogs are a trial and they change so much and so frequently that it’s hard to remember that what’s solid behavior today may not be solid behavior tomorrow. Because of their size, people forget that they’re still growing up mentally and have a lot of hormones influencing their behavior.
This is the age when dogs are most often rehomed because people become overwhelmed by a dog who just doesn’t seem to learn. What they need is consistent training, behavior management, exercise, frequent potty breaks, and an endless supply of toys and chews. Give them those things and wait for a year or two, and you’ll have a dog who’s a pleasure to live with.
Hounds are notorious for an extended puppyhood, so I’ve had to wait nearly three years, but it happened. Like magic, they gradually stopped chewing anything they could get their mouths on, taking off after anything that moved, having accidents in the house because it was raining outside, barking at night for no reason, and otherwise making everyone around them miserable. They’ve still got things I’d like to work on, but they’re generally pretty nice to be around. Visitors like them instead of pitying me.
When I see pictures of the things they used to do, I’m surprised. I’ve already forgotten what they used to be like. It’s common for veteran dog owners to be shocked every time they get a new puppy by just how hard and overwhelming it is. It’s very common for people to tell you they thought their dog was a terrible mistake until they turned two or three and suddenly their dog was a joy.
The exact age you’re looking for varies by breed and the size of the dog, but if you’ve got an adolescent you just can’t live with, remember that this behavior will likely pass. If they’re not actually a danger to anyone, just keep chugging along with your training and know that their behavior will get better. If you know that you just can’t deal with these behaviors, adopt a 3+ year-old dog or a dog with a body conformation that limits their ability to make mischief.