My most popular group class is Juvenile Delinquents. I work with more adolescent dogs than any other developmental stage. It should come as no surprise that the majority of dogs relinquished to shelters and rescue groups are adolescent dogs. It’s no wonder, since adolescent dogs can some days try the patience of even the most patient person on the planet.

While puppyhood can be a pain – literally, when it comes to those sharp razor-like puppy teeth – adolescence is often the more difficult period. Dogs continue to grow bigger and the adolescent period lasts longer than puppyhood. There are no hard and fast rules as to when adolescence begins and ends. It’s a gradual process, so dogs will transition gradually from puppyhood to adolescence and from adolescence to maturity.

Between the ages of four and six months is when puppies move into adolescence. Moving into maturity is a bit more of a gray area. Between one and one-and-a-half years is generally the time it takes for  small breed dog to mature. For larger breed dogs, it could be one-and-a-half years, two years, three years or more.Female dogs tend to mature faster than males dogs. My apologies to those of you living with adolescent males!

Vizlsas are considered one of the breeds slow to mature, along with labs and some others. With Romeo being a male and a Vizsla, I figured maturity would hit sometime around four years, if I were lucky. So I was pleasantly surprised to see Romeo act the part of the perfectly mature gentleman on his second birthday, back in June 2011. Like magic, his second birthday seemed to be the date when maturity set in. Then he woke up the next morning and was back to his usual self!

There is no magic day when your dog suddenly wakes up and all the silly adolescent antics are gone. However, I have seen a big difference in Romeo lately. Two years seems to have been a pivotal time for him. Don’t get me wrong, he is still an adolescent with his adolescent moments. But those moments are much fewer and farther between, and mostly less obnoxious, than they used to be even six months ago.

We still have work to do, but I am happy to see him making better decisions and keeping his head about him more often than he did early on. Romeo is an awesome little guy, and I can’t wait to see what he’s like in another year.

So for those of you still deep in adolescence, don’t despair! It does get better. There will be slip ups along the way, but if you are working as a team with your adolescent dog, you have a fantastic mature dog in the making. Be patient and persistent and you will prevail!