Do Dogs Have a Rebellious Stage?

By Chris Miksen

Your pup, indeed, has the potential to unleash his inner rebel by acting out in the middle of being corrected or engaging in naughty behavior when he knows you're not looking. However, the reasons can vary. Refusing to listen to your commands may be a product of adolescence (just like their human counterparts!), but boredom may also be the culprit.

Adolescence

Dogs entering adolescence are just realizing how fun and awesome the world around them is. They can bark incessantly to grab your attention, chase squirrels, discover the great taste of shoes and have a fun time turning your silk bed sheets into tiny pieces. Smaller breeds enter adolescence earlier in life than larger breeds, so there's no strict age in which your pup will begin acting like a rebel, but you'll notice it immediately. He's not actually rebelling, though. He's learning and discovering and he has tons of energy. Patience and constant training will help end his belligerent behavior.

All Fun and Games

An abnormal hush has fallen over your house. In an effort to conceal his bad behavior, your pup is silent as he steals your shoes and makes off with them like a bandit. You see him, tell him to stop and he looks at you in the eye and scurries away. You run after him and he keeps running -- it's only natural to think he's rebelling against you. But he's not. Your pup thinks the whole thing is a game. You're chasing him, which he equates to playtime, so he thinks taking off with your footwear is rewarding. Positively reinforcing bad behavior encourages that behavior. Giving your pup a treat so he'll drop your socks encourages him to steal more socks. Tossing him a piece of cheese even though he didn't sit when you told him makes it more likely he won't listen to the command in the future.

Demolition Doggie

Ah, the lovely sight of ripped couches, shredded toilet paper and missing baseboards. You might think your pup went on a rampage because he's unhappy you put him in his crate earlier or he's trying to get back at you for leaving him alone. Destruction can happen for a few reasons, however, none of which involve rebellion or revenge. He might be bored, suffering from separation anxiety, teething (if a puppy) or is simply curious.

On Hunger Strike?

Maybe you switched up your pup's food and he's not a fan. So, acting like a little furry rebel, he goes on a hunger strike. In most cases, he is essentially rebelling. He thinks by holding out, he'll get back his food he's used to and enjoys. Don't give in. You hold all of the power in this situation. A healthy dog will always give in and start eating the new chow, typically within two days. If he refuses to eat after two days, or appears lethargic or otherwise unwell while not eating, make a vet appointment as soon as possible.

Frustration

Your pup may rebel when frustrated, typically by barking, growling or even biting. Examples of frustration-induced situations include being shuffled into his crate, poked by small children and being prevented from running up to someone while on a walk.

By Chris Miksen

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References

Vetstreet: What Can I Expect in My Dog’s Adolescence?
DogChannel.com: Wait for a Dog Who Won't Eat
ASPCA: Aggression in Dogs
The Humane Society of the United States: Dogs: Positive Reinforcement Training

About the Author
Located in Pittsburgh, Chris Miksen has been writing instructional articles on a wide range of topics for online publications since 2007. He currently owns and operates a vending business. Miksen has written a variety of technical and business articles throughout his writing career. He studied journalism at the Community College of Allegheny County.