Over and over again, people will call me saying they don’t know what’s happened, that their dog, who has never had x issue before, suddenly has x issue. I ask questions: was there a precipitating event? Was the dog a rescue? How old is he or she?
That last one, quite often, is the determining factor. You see, between 12 and 18 months (roughly), your dog goes from being a puppy to being sort of grown up. What do I mean by sort of grown up? Let me be ageist.
In our society, 18 is technically adult. It’s physically adult, too; 18-year-olds have all the hormones of an adult, they’re sexually mature, and the bulk of their growth and development is done. Does that mean an 18-year-old is grown up? Ask any of us old people (that would be 30 or older) and you’ll hear a resounding, “No!”
Though the body might be ready, and the mind might be working, what creates that ‘grown up’ feeling is, in many respects, maturity. Maturity is typically gained through life experience — and at 18, most teenagers don’t have it yet! What they do have is the law telling them they’re adult, and peer pressure to make adult decisions, and all the hormones and impatience that comes with growing up.
A dog at 12-18 months is very similiar. They’ve reached physical and sexual maturity, for the most part. Their brain has finished forming. They’re full of hormones that tell them, “Hey! You’re an adult now!” But they have no life experience.
If your dog is around this age and starting to have issues crop up, don’t panic! In some cases you can nip the problems in the bud, and just remind yourself that it’s normal. In more serious cases, remind yourself that it’s normal and get some help, knowing that your dog isn’t suddenly “turning bad,” but is just at that age where some extra guidance is needed — for everyone!
And if you are having more serious issues, know that your dog is trying to find his place in your household, and it’s perfectly natural. It doesn’t mean you want to ignore it, but know that it’s time to help her get into the right role, and with a little help, it’s almost always correctable!