Go back to basics:
Just as we did during puppyhood, using management (such as baby gates at home and long lines on walks) will help to prevent our (now bigger, stronger) dogs from practicing unwanted behaviours such as jumping up when we walk in the front door or running off on walks. Using these important tools to avoid conflict and keep everyone happy and safe, alongside rewarding the small things just like we did in those first few months, will make it much easier for our teenage dogs to be successful. This will ensure they continue to learn the right lessons – that paws-on-the-floor is the best tactic to get attention from us and coming back when called pays off well. Management is key to ensure they don’t learn those big lessons we really don’t want them to learn – like how much fun it is to completely ignore our increasingly frantic yelling and chase after that dog/deer/squirrel. This is why our training classes are a 44 week programme to ensure you have the right support during the most critical time of your dogs life. Details of these can be found here
Be sympathetic & patient:
We’ve worked hard since our puppy came home to teach them important lessons which will last them a lifetime – we do ourselves, as well as our dogs, a disservice to fall at this last hurdle. It’s a universally rubbish feeling when our previously angelic and faithful pup starts to ignore us – especially when they happily listen to our friend they’ve only met today! – but as the studies show us; this is normal! It’s not just us going through a difficult time – our dogs are, too. At the other end of this transitional period, we will be met with the adult dog we have invested so much time and effort in. Patience is a virtue and continuing to trust the process will preserve your relationship with your dog.
Set your dog up for success
: This goes hand in hand with “going back to basics.” Our dogs aren’t being “naughty” or disobeying us out of spite – so don’t fall into the trap of feeling cross that your pup isn’t doing something he “knows” how to do. When our pups were small, we carefully set them up to succeed by making things easier for them in new places and around new distractions. Think of the changes your dog is going through as internal distractions – these changes to their brains and hormone levels make it genuinely difficult for them to continue performing to the level they did before puberty hit. Keep this in mind and stick to walks on a long line and working on those important foundations.
Avoid resorting to punishment
: If we’ve followed the steps above, hopefully we are avoiding most situations where our dogs may really start to push our buttons. But we’re all human and our dogs are teenagers, so it’s bound to happen at times. Think ahead and plan your escape: don’t be afraid to cut a walk short if you can feel your blood beginning to boil. There are worse things than heading home and setting pup up with some fun enrichment indoors or in a secure garden. What we don’t want to do, is resort to yelling, lead jerks or other forms of punishment – we know these things increase aggressive behaviour and anxiety in dogs and will harm our relationship. This will not only make adolescence harder, but could have a lasting impact on your dog’s behaviour into adulthood.
So, remember that you made it through puppyhood and you’ll make it through this! The training you’ve done so far WILL pay off, even if it doesn’t feel like it now. Actually, it already is – imagine where you’d be right now without it! Don’t blame yourself – and don’t blame your dog, either! This is just an inevitable part of your puppies growing up and you will both get through this together. You know that everything you did got you through those tricky months of puppyhood and it will again!
For more help join our surviving adolesence course here