Are you tearing your hair out over your adolescent dog, your ‘naughty’ teenage puppy? Or is your young dog simply tearing up your furniture, your garden, your wallet?!
Puppies are cute! Everybody loves a puppy. But then that puppy starts to grow and grow. They explore their world. They use their teeth. At somewhere between 6 and 18 months, they often begin to test boundaries. Where your puppy once hung on to your every word and command, they are now, apparently, deaf to your voice! Your young dog may now be jumping on the couch, pulling washing off the clothesline, digging, escaping and barking.
Teenagehood in dogs may not technically exist but owners living with an adolescent dog, certainly feel justified in complaining about their wayward teen. Yes, like human teenagers, this period is often a young dog simply becoming more independent of their carers: Exploring their own way in the world.
Sadly this is often the time that dogs are given up to shelters, as owners cannot cope. If people understand that this is a stage pups go through, they are more likely to cope.
These tips may help you cope with your teenage canine companion:
- Be consistent with your training. If your use commands, bridges and cues, make sure you are consistent and try to get everyone who handles your dog to follow your methods. This makes it easier for your dog to understand what you want.
- Being consistent with your training will also help your puppy feel secure in its role. Be sure to use lots of praise when your dog behaves well. Set your pup up for success.
- Your pup needs to use their mouth to explore their world, so give them appropriate items to chew. Food-releasing toys are great and chews keep their jaws occupied. Be tidy with your precious belongings. Keep them out of reach of your dog.
- Rotate toys around regularly. Your dog gets bored with toys that are always available and we know that dogs treat a toy as new, if they have not seen it for 5 days, so rotation is the key to keeping your dog interested.
- Give your dog enough physical and mental exercise. They are less likely to be destructive at home if they have expended their energy in more suitable pursuits such as walks, short but regular training sessions and have toys to play with.
6. Set up an agility course in your backyard. This is fun for both dogs and owners and get your kids involved.
7. Learn how to calm your dog down. Regular grooming session or massage can help.
8. Try getting together with the owners of other teenage dogs. Like an adolescent support group, being able to chat about your worries and potentially find some communal solutions may help. If nothing else, your dogs will be able to run off steam together (but do keep an eye on them).
9. Always observe your dog’s behaviour in public. Do not allow them to annoy people e.g. crotch sniffing or other dogs. You are responsible for your dog’s behaviour. Do not wait for your dog to grow out of it. Manage your dog’s behaviour (with a lead) and teach them how you would like them to behave, by rewarding desired behaviour.
10. Remember that adolescence is simply a stage in your puppy’s life. It will pass. Remember, however, that dogs are learning all the time and if owners don’t teach them how they would like them to behave, especially during adolescence, chances are unwanted behaviours will last a lifetime!
Do you live with a teenage dog? What unwanted behaviours have you experienced? Or have you overcome the adolescent behaviour? What are your tips?