YOUR ADULT DOG
A lot of people start running into issues with their adult dogs at around 2 years of age. These issues arise because it's when a dog begins to enter a state of maturity, which means it now feels it can challenge existing rules. So what once seemed like a well-trained dog, now feels larger and more difficult to control. This is not always the case, though. You may just want to sharpen up your dog's obedience. Either way, you can find answers below.
Younger dogs can seem easier to control and easier to work with, but now your adult dog can seem overwhelming. Behaviors your dog may not have had before may start to arise, or previous issues have now progressively gotten worse over time.
Another issue is that some of the obedience-related issues of a younger dog, such as taking your dog on a walk and he or she lunges at people who pass by, once seemed cute--but now runs the risk of actually scaring people on your walk.
Below are some of the common behavioral problems that can occur in dogs of all ages:
Getting on counters or furniture.
Jumping up on people.
Biting not so playfully.
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.
And various other situations.
A misconception is that an adult dog is too old to learn new behaviors and overcome obedience issues. Fortunately, that's not true. In fact, some adult dogs can seem to learn more quickly compared to some puppies. The concept for training an adult dog remains the same, which is ensuring the dog is aware of the behavior that you don't like, showing them the preferred behavior, and then providing rewards based on the obedient behavior you desire. As always, it's all about proper communication with your dog, which is part of our training philosophy at Hira's Legacy.
A dog doesn't have to be a puppy to remember valuable obedience training. The time might be perfect to begin implementing basic obedience commands.
In addition, a lot of times adult dogs run into problems when they don't have a job to perform. Since dogs are unable to multitask, when you begin obedience training, they are now focusing on their new job--and are unable to act out the problematic behaviors from before.
Some of the first, basic commands to help keep your dog on track are:
Sit / Sit Stay
Come When Called
Down / Down Stay
Climb Command (Go To Your Bed / Stay)
Loose-Leash Walking (Heel Commands)
It's important to achieve reliability even with these basic commands. For instance, making sure that your dog understands the commands even in new, potentially distracting situations--or when a visible reward is taken away.
Teaching reliability is part of the training process, and it's not as difficult as you may think, so long as you're equipped with the right knowledge and tools.
When dealing with an adult dog's aggression issues, it can be a lot more intimidating than with a puppy or adolescent dog, and will require different strategies.
To learn about handling aggressive tendencies among dogs of different ages, check out my article on this subject.
At any age, it's important to begin socializing your dog. This is not just about allowing your dog to play with other dogs and meet all your friends--but getting them comfortable around new dogs, new people and new surroundings. This helps your dog become adjusted to various types of situations and environments.
However, with adult dogs, some owners encounter difficulties with socializing based on their dog's unique personality. Some dogs just don't like other dogs very much--the same way that some people just don't like other people This doesn't mean that if your dog doesn't like other dogs, social encounters should be avoided altogether--but you should provide exposure to other dogs without forcing the interactions.
In any case, you want to make sure that the situation is controlled by you (the owner). You don't want your dog to have a bad experience with other dogs, humans, or particular situations, leading to negative associations and further problems in the future.
Socialization is about introducing positive experiences for your dog, and with an adult dog, it becomes even more apparent what your dog likes and doesn't like. So consider what activities are best matched for your dog's personality.
Author: Nathan Schoemer
Editor: Cyrus Kirkpatrick