Teenage dogs – what to expect !

Preparation is Key in helping guide your adolescent dogs into adulthood. It starts from the moment your puppy arrives in your home. At this point puppys are little sponges and constantly learning (both and good and bad) stuff. Its your task to make sure the good stuff sticks and the bad fades away. By teaching through positive association and allowing your puppy to make a choice and good stuff happensn they will quickly learn to offer good behaviours (anything from a sit to a fancy trick) in exchange for reward (Toy / Food / Praise – something the puppy finds worth changing habits for). You will lay a solid foundation as puppy matures and you slowly increase the complexity of the challenges and get them really thinking. At this point you are probably saying – choice? puppy thinking? YES through positive science based training techniques this is exactly what takes place.

Adolescence can start from 6 – 9 months and goes through to full physical maturity of around 2- 3 years, the most noticable changes happening between 6-12 months. This can vary by breed and size of the dog. WARNING SIGNS – you will notice your well behaved puppy seems to have thrown the lesson book out the window, and everything learned seems to have vanished and is replaced by behaviours that you thought were under wraps. This period is where the chemicals in their body are flooding in (as it does with human teenagers) as their body goes through major physical growth and changes and they “act out” pushing boundaries to new levels. I can just imagine the male puppies looking at you saying “why can’t I drive your car now?” or the females “but I want to wear a short skirt and make up!” sound familiar? Understanding that there is a physical reason behind the changes, and not simply being a bad dog. Punishing behaviours at this point is the VERY WORST thing you can do. Sadly some resort to aversive training tools to “Force” puppy back in line. I can go on forever about the negative effects of these and how you can go from having fixable behaviours to really big problems later through the use of these implements.

Tips to Navigate the TEENAGE phase – Build a great bond with your puppy fun, games and canine enrishment. KEEP CALM – Its going to be difficult to not lash out or speak harshly to puppy as you witness som or other destruction, but this kind of action will adversely affect your relationship that you have worked so hard to build up. Many dogs go through a second fear phase during the 6-12 month period so risking the use of force and making them more fearful – is not productive and can leave emotional scars as they grow into adults. A dog can remember things that happened to them as a puppy and this could become a trigger for aggression later in their lives. TEETHING – Hopefully you have taught you young puppy that biting HURTS and they have learned to have a “Soft mouth” as the needle sharp teeth evolve into big sharp permanent ones. Have good healthy and safe chew items like food filled Kongs or Hooves to help them learn to settle with quiet time and keep teeth clean. Further the gentle safe socialization with people, dogs and other animals you started when they were little. DO the socializing right – calm, keep distance far enough for your dog to be calm, reward for good behaviour, dont allow over aroused dogs to greet or play. Include in your socializing bikes, skate boards, cars etc – show them the world gently and make it NOT SCAREY. Dont choose outings that cause fear or anxiety or over arousal in your dog, understand and watch body language VERY CLOSELY and leave instant your dog shows you they are about to explode or shutdown. DONT WAIT UNTIL IT HAPPENS. REPLACE / REDIRECT unwanted behaviours with effective well rewarded desirable behaviours that perhaps you may have learned in puppy class.

If your dogs behaviour and challenges are too much to handle – ask for help from a FEAR FREE CERTIFIED PROFESSIONAL TRAINER (like myself). If things go wrong at this stage it can have devastating long term consequences.

As a COAPE Diploma certifed animal behaviour practioner, and a FEAR FREE CERTIFIED trainer, I offer my clients the best of both worlds. Science Based Successful techniques are the basis of all my courses. In terms of Behaviour I take many aspect of the pet in front of me into consideration in the assessment and behaviour modification plan. Contact me on Whatsp 082 3213 648