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07.10.2019

Dogs and cats also go through “teenage” phase, according to expert

Believe me: pets also undergo adolescence and go through this challenging

time as rebellious teens. Laziness, disobedience and desire for freedom are

some of the characteristics of the young people during this period after

childhood, but dogs and cats also show the same symptoms.

Veterinarian Cleiton Rupolo, specialist at Nutrire (a high-performance pet food

company), explains what happens at this stage of life and what pet owners

must do to ensure their pet’s well-being.

Dogs

As it happens to children, dogs also move from childhood to what is known as

the “rebellious stage”. In addition to physical changes, there are also some

behavioral changes taking place, and knowing how to deal with this period of

life is very important.

“Dog’s adolescence starts at six months of age and usually finishes at 18

months of age, at most. The increased production of hormones leads to

changes in interests and can make the relationship between pets and their

owners more difficult,” he explains. However, love and determination will help

you to go through this stage with your pet in a peaceful and happy way.

At this stage, dog training demands more patience, consistency and

persistence. “It’s important that everyone uses the same command words, and

understand that whatever the pet is learning at the time will be taken through

adulthood,” he adds.

When the dog had already been trained, it may not follow the commands as

before, but patience is the secret to good communication. “Adolescence is not

easy for the pet, and the teenage rebellion will be over in a while,” he says.

Moreover, this stage may boost your dog’s courage and

instigate new

discoveries. The best option is not giving up the collar at walking time, for

example, mainly because the pet may feel like exploring new places, and there

are imminent dangers if it runs around.

“The teenage pet may miss other companions, but playing must not go over

the limits. Many female dogs, for example, will not accept having other female

dogs around – which can lead to confrontations,” warns Dr. Rupolo.

Male dogs are more likely to be interested in females during this period, and

they also tend to mark their territory, which can cause territorial fighting with

other male dogs. You cannot be too careful. “Always put in some clear

leadership roles, but avoid punishment, shouting and scolding – it just keeps

your dog away from you. Affection is always the best measure to deal with

your pet’s rebel behavior,” he suggests.

Cats

Learning and playing are teenage cats’ mottos. In addition to being more

affectionate, at this stage of life cats are full of energy and need to have a lot

of fun to spend it all. At the same time, they also tend to sleep more than they

used to when they were young. “So, don’t be surprised if the pet sleeps for 15

or 16 hours a day,” says the expert.

Dr. Rupolo also warns of potential damage to furniture. “If you don’t want to

have your sofas and armchairs scratched, buy a scraper, because teenage

cats are extremely curious, and in any different places there may be some

interesting and attractive furniture to sharpen their claws,” he suggests.

Although teenage cats love playing games, another important thing for them is

marking their territory – which is something both male and female cats do.

Peeing outside of the litter box is the most common way for a cat to express

that the place belongs to him – and no one else,” he says.

Spaying or neutering the cat is the safest way to prevent this kind of behavior

– and it is also extremely important for its health. “A cat in heat can be

annoying to neighbors, and the heat cycles are uncomfortable for the pet.

Thus, you should always talk to a vet you trust about the procedure. As the

overpopulation of domestic animals is a case of public health, having pets

spayed or neutered helps to reduce animal abandonment rates, prevents

unwanted litters, and promotes responsible ownership,” explains the

veterinarian.

Regardless of the age of the pet, be patient and affectionate with it. There are

lots of myths about cats – that they’re not so bonded to people, for example –,

but, in fact, they also feel sheltered, wanted and safe when they are with their

owners. A teenage cat just needs attention and interaction to grow healthy and

become a happy adult.

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