The "Teenage" Phase (6 months - 2 years) with Dr. Naomi Harvey
We have a special episode for you today, with a world-renowned researcher Dr. Naomi Harvey from Dogs Trust, who has been all over different media outlets recently to discuss her latest research on adolescent dogs. The findings are utterly fascinating and difficult to exaggerate; while anecdotally canine experts have for years discussed similar phases of development in adolescent dogs that we see in adolescent humans, the data collected supports that not only do dogs go through these phases, but pet-parenting/attachment style can also influence the level of conflict seen between dogs and their owners, and can actually cause an early onset of puberty when the attachment is insecure (similar to humans).
There are a few important notes here before listening to the episode. First, your dog going through a “rebellious” phase between 6 months and 2 years is entirely normal. Let me repeat. It is entirely normal to see more “rebellious behavior”, “disobedience”, and conflict during this phase. Having a sense of humor, realizing that your dog is developing and that the phase will eventually end is incredibly important. However, as always, if there is any severe aggression or other behavior problems, please reach out to a certified professional.
We also spend about 10 minutes discussing a topic that is not really touched by a lot of dog trainers, but really important in the context of this conversation; which is dominance. Frequently when pet parents have a difficult adolescent dog, they may (understandably) think they need to “dominate” their dog or something similar. While dominance has a rich scientific literature, it has been hijacked by some in the dog training world to justify harsh or abusive training methods. This is just wrong, completely misguided, and harmful. So thankfully Dr. Harvey takes the time to clear up the myths regarding dominance, and how you can set rules and help your dog through this phase by using positive reinforcement methods.
Guest: Dr. Naomi Harvey
Dr. Naomi Harvey is a zoologist with a specialty in applied animal behaviour and veterinary health and welfare. Since November 2019 Naomi has been working at the Dogs Trust as a Research Manager in Canine Behaviour and she holds an honorary position as an Associate Professor of Companion Animal Behaviour and Welfare at the University of Nottingham. Her research interests lie in improving the evidence base for issues affecting companion animal welfare within the fields of veterinary medicine and clinical animal behaviour, to better inform how we manage and treat dogs to enhance their welfare.
- The Published Study by Dr. Naomi Harvey Discussed in the Episode: Teenage dogs? Evidence for adolescent-phase conflict behaviour and an association between attachment to humans and pubertal timing in the domestic dog
- Dr. Naomi Harvey on Twitter
- Dr. Naomi Harvey's Research (ResearchGate)
- Dogs Trust
- The Patient and Polite Dog Course by Instinct Dog Training