At somewhere from 6 months to 18 months (depending on the size of your pup) they will hit the “Second Fear Phase”.
This is pretty dramatic and is sometimes just fobbed off as “ohh, it’s just teenagers for you” – but it can come with some more worrying underlying issues that you should be aware of.
I say this, because Indie and I learnt the hard way about the fear phase.
As a result of poor breeding (despite all my best efforts to the contrary) Indie developed fear based reactivity, and this only bloomed at this phase of his development. It felt like the change was overnight.
Looking back? It wasn’t.
There were signs, there were signs I missed.
And in a lot of the dogs I’ve worked with? This is where things started to go wrong.
Ever since, I’ve helped a number of ‘teenage’ dogs through this phase, to help their parents guide and re-teach them (quickly) about how to put pup back on the right track.
The importance here? Is that you recognise the signs quickly, and act.
Whether that’s to get a trainer involved or otherwise.
This piece was written to guide you, not resolve the problem. You should still reach out to me, or another positive reinforcement based trainer and work through it together.
So! With that known, let’s start here…
What Is The Second Fear Phase?
With most mammals there are natural ‘brave’ phases, and natural ‘fearful’ phases, it’s kind of how mother nature helps animals who arent domesticated learn their survival skills – by trial and error at a young age. The result of this is a more successful animal that meets the world.
It’s a little more complex in humans, but luckily with dogs it’s quite predictable when it is and what’s going to happen.
This is when we hit a fear or cautionary phase where new things? Can become scary, or things that we were kind of okay with? Can change our minds pretty quickly if they do something new. Where before this may have sparked curiosity, this will spark a more fearful “Whoa!” reaction now.
Your adorable pup may very suddenly be affected by the second fear phase, working on a solid recall is really advisable before this happens When Does The Second Fear Phase Start & End?
So, it will vary by size, by breed and by an individual. A labrador may be a similar size to a german shepherd but they tend to go through fear phases late, where as two german shepherd puppies may go through it a month apart, or even four months apart depending on their breeding and then on their life experiences so far environment and a whole host of other variables.
This means that the window is a huge window from 6 months to 18 months.