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Do you have an adolescent dog

27/05/2021 - Adolescent Dogs

Or a dog that didn't get any training during a lockdown period, or a dog that's struggling to cope with life?

If you're struggling to find a way to cope with a dog that has all of a sudden grown from a tiny puppy into an adult who's become strong, difficult to handle, strong-willed, and wanting to do their own thing this can be tough for pet parents.

We very often receive calls to ask, what can be done with the adolescent dog because owners are on the brink of rehoming. It's a very sad statistic because we know that most puppies tend to be rehomed anywhere from six months to 12 months purely because of this difficult life stage they go through.

It's a real shame because rehoming and struggling with adolescent dogs really can be prevented. Let's take a look at the common problems with an adolescent dog:

  •     Lack of listening skills
  •     Lack of focus 
  •     Lacking the ability to learn
  •     Overly focused on environmental factors such as other dogs and people
  •     High prey drive development  
  •     Generally excitable around the smallest of things
  •     Behavioural changes around other dogs
There are lots of things that can go wrong for an adolescent dog, but why does this happen?
  • They are rapidly growing up their body is changing
  • Habits often change just before adolescence, the biggest one is stopping training too soon. 
  • Hormones are surging through their body and they're becoming sexually mature, which means they have other things on their mind. More about this later.
  • Sleep patterns and energy levels change

Let's look at these points in more detail. One of the biggest issues that we see with adolescent dogs, is that everybody is very focused on young puppies and spend a lot of time doing training at this stage. Quite often by the time pup is six months old, there is a belief that the puppy is trained and no further training is required. We know from research that this could be one contributing factor as to why your dog starts to lose focus.

The other factor is, of course, is that their bodies are going through changes. Now that doesn't mean you just go off and neuter your dog and everything will be fine because that's not the case. But what it does mean is you need to understand what your puppy or dog is going through to work with them.

What do we do for an adolescent dog, and how do we help them?

Prevention is better than cure which is why we offer so many different ways to train your puppy and dog from the moment you bring them home because all dogs need different things. We start training puppies from the moment you bring them home with our online program called Dogversity. It's critical to get the very first stages right. Book here for our Dogversity program which includes the coveted puppy's first steps course. https://www.bestbehaviourdogtraining.co.uk/dogversity-online

Then you have the option to come to class and then as they develop into adolescent dogs during our supportive 45-week training program called the complete Canine we are there for you and know your dogs well.

We differ massively from standard puppy and dog training as we don't just do an eight-week course. We offer you behaviour training throughout the whole of your dog's life if you want it. For example, our very first course that you would come to us for face-to-face training is 45 weeks long if you wanted to attend it all. However as with everything we allow you to book as little as 8 weeks at a time so you can tailor our training programs around your and your dog's needs.

At Best Behaviour we don't take the easy option of just training cute little puppies when they're easy to train. We want to support you through the adolescent period and beyond.

But what if my dog has done no training before adolescence or has bad habits already?

The best way to start with an untrained older puppy is with a one-to-one, so we can teach you and your dog the vital skills needed when in a distracting environment. Think about it like this, you don't send a pilot into a plane, and give them the keys and expect them to fly the plane, because that would be a disaster. But instead, you put the pilot into a flight simulator to learn how to fly a plane (This is your one-to-one Captain speaking!).

When you have an adolescent dog or a puppy we want to train the skills, and then gently apply those skills to everyday life and routines. For example, if your adolescent dog is very distracted by people. We need to make sure that your adolescent dog has the skills to easily perform behaviours such as an auto sit, or lay down, or park themselves before being allowed to jump over people and learn bad habits.

For each dog, our packages can be tailored according to individual needs. There is no one size fits all and you may over time combine all of our variety of training to get the best results for you and your dog.

The key to success is making sure your puppy and dog get the right training at the right time. In an ideal world, we wouldn't have had locked downs, and everybody would have been in training with their puppy by the time they're 12 weeks old. But lockdowns are no excuse to not train, as there is a wealth of online training just a click away too. (Just in case we get any more lockdowns!)  The world isn't perfect, so we have to deal with that and help our puppies and dogs cope with the new evolving world we are living in. We suggest if you have an adolescent dog over the age of six months old with no prior training to work with us on a one-to-one basis first, then we can plan to bring a puppy or dog into classes at the appropriate time. https://www.bestbehaviourdogtraining.co.uk/121-training/.

I've personally rescued dogs that have been at this life stage, and I know how difficult it can be to live with them and take them on walks. But what I can promise you is with the right training, right guidance, and long-term support and commitment to training, you can get through it and you can have the most amazing dogs at the end of it. Some of my best dogs are those very dogs that we worked hard through adolescence with. There is light at the end of the tunnel, if you're struggling and thinking, what am I going to do with my dog, make contact with us, we can suggest the right package for your dog to help them through adolescence.


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