From The Blog, Terrible Teens

From Puppy to Teenager

So Freya’s teenager years have begun. I did hope that all the effort I put in to her puppy training would mean that this would pass me by unnoticed. However, like most cockapoo owners, my puppy has a huge and highly demanding personality, so this was never going to happen.

Apparently dogs begin their adolescence at around eight months – I certainly concur with that one – and mature around their second birthday. Every cockapoo owner I’ve met with an older dog tells me we have to wait until they are three. So teenage years for us cockapoo lovers could be up to 28 months in total – less than my children’s of course, but even so daunting as a complete novice.

Teenager behaviour in dogs

Freya is now 10 months and I already have a long list of teenager behaviour she’s adopted:

Puppy to teenager - Freya sleeping in

Sleeping In

My enthusiastic morning welcome has all but disappeared. The waggy tail and excitable behaviour of Freya’s puppy years developed into a preference to stay in her comfy bed and continue to sleep when I now enter the kitchen.
IMAGE CAPTION: Sleeping beyond 9 am on some days!

Disobedience and Selective Hearing

Suddenly Freya appears to have forgotten the sit command – the first one she learnt! The little monkey hovers her bottom just above the ground in rebellion. She’s brilliant at waiting for permission to be allowed to run off the lead, but now when I do the 20 steps back using watch command she’ll look anywhere but at me. Treats are no longer as effective – even high value ones. When she’s let off her lead she’d rather run off for her first sniff and ignore the reward for waiting. The challenge position is a common one as well – she knows exactly how to wind me up for attention.
VIDEO CAPTION: Challenging recall and going on to eat deer poo!

Puppy to teenager - sulking in the corner

Attention Seeking, Moodiness and Sulking

As I worked from home, I encouraged Freya to occupy herself when I needed to concentrate. This was not a problem in the early months as she slept for long periods and was content playing with her toys for 30 minutes or so. No longer – gone is my little puppy who enjoyed looking out of the windows, bouncing round the garden, playing with her toys and sitting contentedly at my feet. Even though she’s walked twice a day for an hour at a time (still following the walking rules), is entertained with trick learning as well a training practice, gets to play tuggy and chasing me around the garden, and visits friends and family, the second I sit down at a computer she starts demanding my attention. And if she doesn’t get it she sulks in a corner, puts herself to bed, or flops down on the floor with huge sighs.
IMAGE CAPTION: Sulking in the corner

Sexual Provocation

Quite frankly her flirting and teasing behaviour is shocking. Biting ears, licking muzzles, pawing and sniffing dogs nether regions before falling down on her back with her legs open. As soon as the poor dog responds she jumps up and sits firmly on her bottom!
VIDEO CAPTION: Teasing poor Jasper – at 11 he’s certainly met his match with Freya!

Toy Chewing

Around six months old puppies begin to grow in their second set of teeth and this continues with the back ones last to finalise. Freya began to sit and chew at her toys for the first time– she’s never been destructive as I distracted her when young each time she chewed anything inappropriate. Not exactly teenage behaviour, but she started to enjoy gnawing at her tuggy toys from 8 months.

Tips from a Novice

1  Keep Training

I don’t let Freya get away with anything, just as with my teenager children, it’s important to constantly reaffirm the rules and not allow them to take control. I remind her (gently but firmly) who’s top dog! We started Bronze training this month.

2  Selective Hearing

When off the lead on walks, as long as Freya could see me she made the decision as to whether to listen or not. Interestingly, by hiding from view (a Hilary tip) (although I was still able to keep an eye on her through bushes), she was less confident and raced to find me.

3  When Treats Don’t Work

I’ve switched to dictate whether Freya has access to all the exciting smells she is so desperate to discover. If she ignores me, I take this away by putting her back on the lead and let her off when she concentrates on my command. It’s tiring, but she’s intelligent and a quick learner. However, I’m yet to manage the spotting of a squirrel or another dog – suspect this one will take until she’s three!

4  Controlling Feeding

Freya has decided to start being choosy as to what she eats again. Still determined not to cave, and although her diet is now more varied, I want to stick to kibble and so discovered a way to tempt her with out adding anything to it other than a little hot water. She loves the gravy that leaches from the buscuits and scoffs it down. I’ve only just understood why you don’t allow your dogs to graze at their food during the day like cats. As top dog you need to manage their food as means you stay in control. Meal times are set twice a day and the bowl is removed if she’s not eaten it after 20-minutes. This goes for her chews as well! More on feeding a fussy puppy here.

5  Home Alone

While looking out of the sitting room windows Freya began barking and growling at anything that moved from around nine months. Not a problem when I’m at home as I can gently reassure her when it’s neighbours or friends, but if I’m out I’m conscious it could drive our neighbour mad. I keep her contained in the kitchen/diner when out – she can see onto the garden, but she doesn’t bark at ducks, rabbits and pheasants that frequent the lawn so it’s not a problem.

Discover a few more tips on the British Cockapoo Society website here.


  • Thank you for this! I’ve been feeling like I’ve failed ‘Puppy Rearing 101’. Lilly Rose is now nine months and it sounds like we are well into the teenage stage too. She doesn’t tend to sleep in more or chew more than usual (she’s always been a manic chewer). But on your other three points yes, yes and yes!
    Selective hearing – nothing can snap her out of it if she’s found something of more interest than me. Not even free range chicken breast. This makes the mixed ability class a little embarrassing and means that I still have to get up and dig for cat poo in the mornings as the ‘leave it’ command seems to be optional in her book.
    Attention seeking behaviour – this manifests in ‘visitor greeting mania’ as if they’re her last hope of being saved!
    And in terms of the sexual side of things – for the moment this seems to be evident in the newly emerging and somewhat embarrassing act of trying to hump my arm.
    We’ll just keep on with the training, hiding behind bushes to keep her guessing and putting her back on the lead when it all gets too much. If fact, most of the time I end up carrying her around like a teddy bear, when we’re both ‘done’ and just can’t cope. 🙁

    • Hi Stephanie

      I laughed out loud at your comment: ‘Attention seeking behaviour – this manifests in ‘visitor greeting mania’ as if they’re her last hope of being saved!’ as you nailed the behaviour so succinctly. I’m wondering if this has improved for you as Lily Rose is the same age as Freya…at 18 months we’re still battling to control Freya’s greetings, but despite our best efforts – and the help of a KC trainer – no luck yet!

      Oh and talking of coping on walks, if we’re out on our own she and spots anything remotely fluffy or spanielesque, Freya’s straight on the lead now…no question. All’s well initially as I tell her to sit and wait, but after a minute she just can’t help herself and dashes off to begin the fun, refusing to come back no matter what I do. I have to say that the majority of our fellow dog owners are very understanding, however, some look at you with utter distain. I finally slink away with embarrassment after Freya has eventually deigned to return, or after they have stood quietly with their perfectly behaved pooch to enable me to collect my little perpetrator. Interestingly, unless it’s a puppy, I don’t have any trouble with other breeds (oh, other than sheep which Freya believes are large cockapoos).

      Glad to say though that other than these types of recall incidents, Freya’s response to most commands are improving – thanks to the treats! She begins her Gold in January…lest she forget everything we’ve learnt together!

  • Have recently found your blog and it is like a breath of fresh air! Our 10 month puppy is exactly like this???? so reassuring to know it is normal…albeit a tricky patch!

  • Aw, this was an extremely nice post. Spending some time and actual effort to
    create a good article… but what can I say… I
    put things off a whole lot and don’t seem to get nearly anything done.

  • I am so glad I read your helpful post. I have been feeling i was a failure especially in this lock down time. I will not give up n o w. Thank you. I have hope now.

    • Oh please don’t give up Lisa…we are all life long learners no matter how experienced we are. Just enjoy the positive moments, I’m sure the challenging ones will become less, we just need to give it time!

  • I have really enjoyed reading your comments we are definitely in teenage years as my Molly Rose is nine months old and just coming into season as for playing and ignoring me when I call after upsetting a couple of owners with nervous dogs by continually running round them I seem to have cracked it ,she has become obsessed by her ball and as long as she can see that I have it and she is waiting for me to launch it she doesn’t move a muscle although once she has it she shows off by running around other dogs with it showing them but not letting them play ,so the answer for me was have two balls and she is so obsessive about them I have her whole attention at last other dog owners think she’s great and totally trained ,not a bit of it without that ball my power has gone.hope she doesn’t go off it in the strange teenage years of my gorgeous cockapoo

    • Teenage years can be the most trying Veronica and I’m glad the post reassured you. The teenage years soon pass and in my experience, once a dog is ball obsessed, it’s usually for life! They are a wonderful mixed breed aren’t they.

  • Yes thank you. All very relevant to my 8 month old little cutie. We haven’t as yet hit any real bad behaviours and he is mostly totally funny and adorable apart from the occasional jumping with a bit of biting. Which we manage to overcome with a few minutes time out or distraction with a game of tug.
    He makes the most horrendous noises (sounds like very loud yowl) even when I go to put the rubbish out or waiting outside a shop with my daughter. I live on my own so he has got to get used to being left alone ( actually not alone cos I have another dog).
    He sleeps really well in his crate at night and barks or Me if he needs the loo. Has Anyone tried putting them in their crate for short periods when they go out. To be truthful I’d rather he had his freedom to roam About But I wondered if he’d feel safer! Any thoughts??

    • Hi Lisa

      An unspayed female dog can usually be expected to come into heat twice yearly, some only one season every year, some have been known to be every 18 months. If you’re worried do go and see your vet for reassurance x

  • my Tilly is 19 months old now and has been through all the stages you mentioned , she tends to hump my fairy cushion at certain times a night , which makes her very hungrey , we do tend to ignore her. i feel reassured after reading your post that its normal for female dogs to do .

  • Oh my goodness Sally-Anne – your blog is so reassuring! My 8 month old male cockerpoo, Ollie is a mirror image of all the behaviours mentioned. I know the embarrassment so well when the recall hits a wall & master Ollie just doesn’t care less about me & only has eyes for another furry fun loving cockerpoo or any dog come to that.
    I found so much useful information that you have shared – thank you.

    • Henry is 11 months and goes crazy when he sees another dog. His recall is out the window so we have gone back to basics. I’m praying it is just a phase, he cries and jumps like a mad man to play with any dog and we use treats and distance to train.

      • Going back to basics is definitely the way forward Louise; if Henry’s recall was working before it should come back before very long. It is frustrating when you think you’ve cracked aspects of their training and then teenage hormones kick in. Take a look at Calm Cockapoo by Two – I know it seems a long way off, but on reflection behaviour improvement happened for me in gradual stages through treat reward training. When walking off lead, my two will now sit patiently by me waiting for the treat after calling them away from distraction 99% of the time!

  • Henry is exactly the same at 6 months. He constantly wants to play with every dog on a walk, pulls and starts going crazy! We have been distracting with a treat and walking on as much as possible. Henry plays quite rough and still hasn’t learnt his manners, he doesn’t know when to stop. I’m hoping it’s all part of growing up. He is a such a fun, loving boy and loves his cuddles!

  • I love how positive everyone is. We have a male cockapoo puppy who we love but at times it’s exhausting. We got him at 8 weeks and he’s wonderful 80% of the time but the other 20%… not so much. The barking when he sees people or dogs while walking in just embarrassing. He tends to nip occasionally, again not a fan. We’ll actually put him in timeout. In the kitchen way from us for a couple of minutes. It always helps calm him but I’m curious as to when he’ll figure out, we don’t like that behavior.

    • Hi Laura, We’re positive because most of us have been in your shoes and now enjoying well behaved (although sometimes a little too enthusiastic) doodles. Frankie is just two and her behaviour training took longer than Freya – now nearly 5 – to establish itself. Frankie has a completely different personality to Freya and so it does depend on the individual cockapoo’s nature as to how long it takes. I think if you’ve already arrived at 80% that’s amazing, so I’d say keep doing what you’re doing. Consistency of those involved with puppy is the most crucial aspect of any training. Repeating what you do, will bring rewards. Not sure if you’ve read behaviourist, Rachel’s article on teenage rebellion as well – she has some great tips. Good luck!

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