Teenage Kicks - when your fluffy pup morphs into a teenager!
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Over the last few weeks, I have seen a huge increase in people getting in touch as they are starting to see changes in behaviour from their pups. In the main, these are pups who are hitting in and around 10 months of age, which means…… adolescence!
Gone is the cute ball of fluff that shadowed you where you went and in its place is a little tearaway that seem to have forgotten their name, let alone any of the training that you managed to do over the last few months.
Lockdown restrictions means that a lot of the help, advise and training that most people would have been able to access when they got their puppy has been moved to online training consultations, car park handovers in the vets and resorting to google for tips and help on puppy training, behaviour and grooming.
Its been hard all round, and its nobody’s fault. We all have met the resident “dog park expert”, or have that’s neighbour whose daughters friends cousins grandad trained dogs at Crufts on hands to tell you are doing everything wrong. Take a breath, you have got your puppy this far and you will get through this as well.
Adolescence in dogs? Really?
Canine teenagers, like their human counterparts, have a huge amount of hormonal changes going on, their growth spurts are still happening and its important to remember its just another stage of development in the way to adulthood. Adolescence in pups can start at different ages, from 6 months of age for smaller breeds who tend to mature quicker than the larger breeds who may not mature in this way until maybe 10 months of age. It lasts until your dog reached maturity physically, emotionally and sexually.
You may see signs like increased ignoring of cues that they had perfected over the last few months, the testing of rules and previously set limits, general “boldness” , and some even show signs of increased confidence or on the flip side increases in fearful behaviour. Concentration and focus can become an issue and some even begin to have toileting issues in the house again. Some pups sail through it without any issues, and others turn into the Tasmanian Devil wrecking the house as they go. We have no way of knowing how your pup will be during the teenage months until they start going through it.
Its important to remember, that your pup is not turning into some type of juvenile delinquent, they are just trying to find the way to show they are growing up and like all teenagers, need understanding and a a wee bit of help to find the best way to move forward.
What you can do to make sure that your pup has what they need to get through adolescence and stay the same fantastic family pet that you know and love.
Routine – dogs thrive on routine and predictability. Set a timetable of events for your dog and monitor how they react. Make sure to include exercise, training, enrichments and most importantly rest times.
Socialisation – yes we are STILL in lockdown and the chance to take part in group training classes and puppy playdates are gone for the time being, but you can still help your dogs to view other dogs/people/buggies/horses in a positive light. While the traditional socialisation period is finished now, get carrying those treats out on walks with you and remember to reward calm behaviour!
Training – ok so dog training face to face is by veterinary referral only at the moment, but do not be afraid to reach out to a trainer for help and advice, most of us are only too happy to help when we can, online training has really taken off, we can always give a few tips by email to help and all of the modern vets (in our area anyway) are aware that the last year has been hard on new pet owners and will give you a referral letter for face to face training if its needed.
Confidence Building - one way we can build a dogs confidence is by giving them a job to do! Enrichment feeders such as Kong, K9 Connectables, Snuffle Mats etc are all great tools for mental stimulation and will tap into your dog's natural instincts to forage for food and problem solving which in turn can help keep them calm and occupied.
>Enable independence– while our pets have had almost unfettered access to us over the last 12 months, now is the time to build up their confidence to be alone. Set up an area of the house which is your dogs “bedroom”. Using a crate or puppy pen can be a real asset for this. While your dog is relaxed in their area, work from another room or even just read a book. Build up the time your dog spends alone gradually, do not try and leave them for extended periods of time at the start.
While the Positive Dog Training centre is still closed due to Covid restrictions, the training team is still on hand to offer help and advise. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo seeour range of online training options click on this link - Online Training Options