YOUR ADOLESCENCE DOG
So you have a puppy, and it seemed like training was going great from the beginning. Your puppy was following you everywhere, but now all of a sudden your puppy is starting to explore, become more independent--but is also ignoring your commands. This can be frustrating for dog owners as they discover their pup's developing personality. An adolescent dog may still have many of the issues that a younger puppy might have, with a few notable differences. Let's take a look.
Many of the mistakes that an owner may make while the dog is a puppy can turn into serious problems as the dog gets older. As an example, the puppy jumping up on your lap may have been cute, and it was rewarded for the behavior, but now your dog's grown larger and has muddy paws. Now jumping is not only not cute, but potentially destructive.
This can go for many more examples. Play biting becomes harder, pulling on the leash is now knocking you down, etc. As a result, owners of adolescent dogs often seek help from professional trainers.
Below are some of the common behavioral problems for dogs of all ages (however the solutions are different depending on the age of the dog):
Jumping up on people.
Pulling on the leash.
Marking their territory.
Barking at the front door.
Relieving themselves in the house.
Barking or whining in their crate.
Barking at dogs or people while on a walk.
Begging for food.
Getting on counters or furniture.
And various other situations.
Dealing with these situations is not always so difficult, although it may seem more intimidating as the dog grows in size during adolescence. It's important to make the dog stay aware of the behavior that you don't like, showing them what you'd prefer them to do, and then rewarding them for the correct behavior. This means communicating with the pup in a way that's very clear, very easy to understand--resulting in an improved relationship with your adolescent dog as he or she grows.
So, you heard that it's best to start training when your dogs a puppy, but now you've waited until your dog's an adolescent. Don't worry, this is still a good time to start obedience training. In fact, it's never too late to start training.
Below is a list of some basic obedience commands that will help you to have an easier, more pleasant life with your adolescent dog.
Sit / Sit Stay
Come When Called
Down / Down Stay
Climb Command (Go To Your Bed / Stay)
Loose-Leash Walking (Heel Commands)
The challenging part is often achieving reliability, even with commands that seem basic. As an example, ensuring that your dog will perform these commands regardless of new environments or distractions, or whether or not there's a reward visibility present.
In actuality, such reliability is not difficult to teach once you're equipped with the right tools and knowledge.
It's important to take care of aggressive issues while a dog is still adolescent because these problems can become more problematic as the dog ages and becomes bigger and more intimidating.
To learn about handling aggressive tendencies among dogs of different ages, click here to read my article.
Among a dog's behavioral issues, aggression is often the most troublesome for a new owner. It can create fear that the aggressive behaviors are a sign of bad breed or a dog with psychological issues.
However, this is not necessarily the case. Often, owners are teaching or reinforcing aggressive behavior without even realizing it. It's imperative to be aware that a dog may be using aggressive behaviors as a way to get the desired outcome (by manipulating the owners).
An example of accidentally reinforcing an aggressive behavior could be: you go to collar your dog, the dog growls, and you back away without finishing the job.
This can be a tricky situation, given that if your dog is no longer a puppy, an owner must be mindful of personal safety. Most of the time the dog is still feigning the behavior, however, there is a possibility that the dog will bite, so there's different ways to approach this. So, if you are running into this issue, please give Hira's Legacy a call.
Keep in mind that most puppies and adult dogs out there are either trying to get some type of result from their aggression, or they have fear-aggression. You will very rarely encounter a puppy (or an adult dog) that is dominant-aggressive.
Below is a list of some of the common ways an adolescent may appear to be aggressive:
Biting at your hand when trying to take a toy.
Biting or growling when taking away food.
Biting at your hand when putting on a collar or leash.
Aggressively rushing at house guests who enter.
Acting aggressive inside the crate.
Growling, barking or snapping if given a command.
Aggression toward other dogs.
Often younger and adolescent dogs will go through a period of fearful behavior, sometimes known as the fear period. During this time, the dog may appear to be easily startled, worrisome, and seemingly losing confidence.
If your puppy or adolescent dog is having fear problems, there are some considerations to make. One thing you don't want to do is reinforce the behavior (petting, soothing, etc). However, you don't want to correct the dog as if you are punishing it for being afraid (making it more afraid).
One of the best strategies is to help the dog work through the period by introducing slow exposure to the things they're afraid of, until the dog gradually regains confidence.
When your dog is an adolescent, it's still an excellent time to start socializing, even if your dog hasn't been exposed to social activities before.
Socializing doesn't mean just allowing your dog to play with all the other dogs in the neighborhood, or jump on every person that he or she sees. The big idea is to expose your dog to new situations, people, and environments. This leads to a dog that's adjusted for many cases and with a balanced personality.
But it's important to control the situation. As an example, we wouldn't want your adolescent dog to be exposed to aggressive dogs at your nearby park, thus associating that park with the confrontation. Your dog should also avoid humans with poor skills around animals.
Socializing is, therefore, a process that involves introducing your dog to new situations, to help him or her learn in a positive way. This can include bringing your dog around other well-behaved dogs, owners who reinforce positive behavior, and activities that you think your dog might enjoy.
Author: Nathan Schoemer
Editor: Cyrus Kirkpatrick