The Teenage stage!!!
Do you have an adolescent dog? How are you getting on? Hard work right? Hallie has just turned 1 year, and she is certainly giving me days where my patience is fully tested! Did you know that the majority of dogs are given into rehoming centres at this age? If you have one, then you’ll understand why.
It feels like they are testing all the boundaries, forgotten their name, have developed selective hearing, huge amounts of energy, lost the ability to relax, excessive barking, chasing wildlife, stealing food and even some aggression.
Puberty is rough! *good news – this is a phase*
I do think this phase as a make-or-break time it in your relationship. It’s easy to lean towards using punishment in pure desperation. Shouting “No”, scolding “naughty dog”, or even hitting or shaking. However, these approaches will not resolve the problems you are having and will damage the relationship you have with your dog. Research shows that the more secure relationship you have with your dog, the easier you will get through this period. This is a time to show compassion, understanding and help your dog learn the behaviours you want from them.
Focus on setting your dog up for success. Do they need to be on lead when your guests come round? Do they need more chill time in their quiet area or crate? Do you need to use a long line when out on walks? If your dog is making mistakes, then ask yourself “can I set that up better next time?”. Manage your dog and set them up for getting it right.
Enrichment is key. Don’t try to tire them out with lots of long walks and ball throwing. This will actually make them ‘higher’ and have more energy. You want to focus on a mentally satisfied dog. Nose games are brilliant; get them searching for their dinner around the garden or use snuffle mats or slow feeders. Don’t feed them from their bowel, get them working for it. Do some training games, teach some tricks, spend your time capturing all their ‘good’ choices and reward them for it. Most importantly set them up for success.
You will have good days, bad days, some horrible days, but remember, you will get through it. It is a phase (just wanted to remind you again) and if you can focus on your relationship with your dog, then you will both get to the other end with a best friend 😊