London, May 16 (IANS) A typical teenage behaviour doesn't just occur in young humans, it happens in dogs too, say researchers, adding that adolescent dogs can have changes in their mood just like teenagers can be moody or unpredictable.
The study, published in the Biology Letters, found that dogs were more likely to ignore commands given by their caregiver and were harder to train at the age of eight months when they are going through puberty. This behaviour was more pronounced in dogs which had an insecure attachment to their owner.
"This is a very important time in a dog's life. This is when dogs are often re-homed because they are no longer a cute little puppy and suddenly, their owners find they are more challenging and they can no longer control them or train them," said study researcher Lucy Asher from the Newcastle University in the UK.
"But as with human teenage children, owners need to be aware that their dog is going through a phase and it will pass," Asher added.
For the findings, the research team looked at a group of 69 dogs to investigate behaviour in adolescence. They monitored obedience in the Labradors, Golden Retrievers and crossbreeds of the two, at the ages of five months - before adolescence - and eight months- during adolescence. Dogs took longer to respond to the 'sit' command during adolescence, but only when the command was given by their caregiver, not a stranger.
The odds of repeatedly not responding to the 'sit' command from the caregiver were higher at eight months compared to five months. However, the response to the 'sit' command improved for a stranger between the five and eight-month tests.
Further evidence was found when the team looked at a larger group of 285 Labradors, Golden Retrievers and German Shepherds and crossbreeds of them. Owners and a trainer less familiar with each dog filled in a questionnaire looking at 'trainability'. It asked them to rate statements such as: 'refuses to obey commands, which in the past it was proven it has learned' and 'responds immediately to the recall command when off lead.'
Caregivers gave lower scores of 'trainability' to dogs around adolescence, compared to when they were aged five months or 12 months. However, again trainers reported an increase in trainability between the ages of five and eight months.
The experts also found that in common with humans, female dogs with insecure attachments to their caregivers were more likely to reach puberty early.