Adolescence and a second Fear Impact Period.

Bella Brinklow Sue McCabe in a recent great blog called Help I don’t Like my Dog (the link no longer works) says, ‘The dreaded teens can result in dogs who refuse to respond to commands they knew well a few months before. Recall can become non-existent. Chewing & destruction-with bigger, stronger jaws-can rear its ugly head. Confidence levels in your dog may result in challenging behaviour with you, the owner, strangers, or even other dogs. Hormones, vital for mental and physical maturity, can wreak havoc in your dog’s brain and body. It’s not his fault but it is annoying’.

She proceeds to give some excellent advice for people struggling with adolescent dogs.

‘All this adolescent adventuring can be wearing on owners’, says ‘Most dogs abandoned at shelters are between eight and 18 months old, at the height of adolescence. This is also a prime time for dogs to be banished to the backyard – a boring and sad place for such social animals’.

The fear period that kicks in at about four months of age means that the vital socialisation period door is closing and it is well documented.

What isn’t so well documented is that ‘adolescent dogs experience a second “Fear Impact” period—also called the “Fear of New Situations”, to quote Gail Fisher of All Dogs Gym and Inn in Adolescent Anxiety – Second Fear period:  ‘FNS is marked by the dog’s reluctance to approach something familiar—as if they’re seeing it for the first time—and/or an unwillingness to approach new things. A dog’s behavior may range from slight caution or hesitation, to downright fearful refusal. FNS is an adolescent phenomenon that may occur sometime between six and 18 months of age. It may also occur more than once……..Even slight changes in the dog’s environment can send the dog into a tizzy’.

She explains it very well and advises the best approach is to be patient, be jolly, remove your dog if possible, and know that adolescence is just a period and hopefully short-lived.

Here is the story of Brio, an adolescent Cocker Spaniel whose family I helped a short while ago.

My main website:


About Theo Stewart

I am a dog Behaviourist C.C.B (Certified Canine Behaviourist) INTODogs). I have helped over 3000 dog owners over eighteen years. In addition to online consultations all over the world, I cover Beds, Herts, Cambs and Bucks for home visits. A 'Victoria Stilwell' Positively Dog Trainer (VSPDT) and a full member of the IMDT. Graduate ISCP, International School for Canine Practitioners. My main site:
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