Teenagers. The bundle of joy who was once your greatest fan suddenly doesn’t listen to a word you say. Hard, right? Turns out, dog parents suffer through these years, too. Teen canine unruliness and disobedience is a hot topic among dog owners. In the to investigate canine adolescence behavior, scientists at Newcastle University have underpinned what may be the cause of the ruff years between dog and caregiver.
The researchers followed a litter of 70 guide dogs to be. The breeds were German shepherds, golden and Labrador retrievers, and mixed breeds of the two. The dogs' attachment and attention-seeking behaviors towards their owners were measured and compared to the age of puberty. Female dogs that displayed insecure attachment and attention-seeking behaviors began puberty earlier than those which did not — of human adolescents who also suffer from rocky relations with their parents.
The second phase of the project saw the researchers scoring the obedience of 93 dogs toward both their main caregiver and a stranger at two time points: “adolescence” and “pre-adolescence.” Unfortunately for the caregivers, dogs responded less to the command of “sit” during adolescence. However, in a brazen act of teen rebellion, the dogs responded to the strangers' commands more during the adolescence period. This disobedience was heightened in dogs with insecure attachments.
Tying these experiments together are the results from a questionnaire the researchers sent out to understand the link between the two “attachment” and “trainability.” Separation-related behaviors increased at 8 months, alongside the obedience decreasing.
This could have a huge impact on the number of dogs relinquished to shelters each year, since most dogs in shelters are of . Could the teen disobedience be something the owners cannot cope with? Could there be a way to reduce the number of teen dogs being relinquished? Furthermore, dogs could be used as a model of teen attachment behavior to understand high-risk and impulsive behaviors in at-risk teenagers.