Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Puppy Adolescence

The Smart and Beautiful Foster Puppy Girl Lovey
Puppies like people go through an adolescence phase in their natural development. From a training perspective this presents potential problems. If you have a puppy in your pack, you need to at least be aware of this phenomena.

Generally dogs are considered adults at around 12 months of age.  The adolescence phase can begin at any point between about 6 months and about 18 months. The repetitively good news is that it does not last as long as it does in people. Usually in dogs it last from a few weeks to a couple of months or so.

The adolescence is brought about by physiological, mainly hormonal changes in the dog as part of his/her growth to adulthood. The thing that seems a bit counter intuitive, to me at least, is that altering the dog (spay/neuter) does not seem to have a great effect on the behavior during adolescence.

Well, here is the bad news: During adolescence it is not uncommon for you sweet little well behaved and polite dog to seemingly forget everything that you worked so hard teach him/her.

Housebreaking accidents are common. General misbehavior is common. An article on Petfinder.com really describes it well; "At times he may look at you as though you had just addressed him in Mandarin, trying to convince you that you never taught him the sit command"

This is really serious stuff. Many dogs end up in shelters because their people do not understand what is going on here. This condition is temporary and there are things that you can do about it. It is far from a hopeless situation. It can however, be extremely frustrating.

Foster Boy Biscuit taking a nap
This kinda hits close to home for the Lovely Shane and myself. Our current foster boy, Biscuit is going through this now. We welcomed him to our home a couple of weeks ago and he was making great progress. Housebreaking was going great! He was learning basic commands and doing them very well. He was becoming a very polite little guy.

Foster Boy Biscuit... ain't that a pretty face!
Biscuit is about 9 or 10 months old. It is apparent, to me at least , that he is now beginning that wonderful adolescence phase. He has suddenly forgotten that he should only relief himself outside. He is becoming generally more stubborn. He is sort of testing the limits that we put upon him. All of this is natural and extremely frustrating!

 What you have to do is remain calm, be patient, and take several steps back in your training (this will be temporary). Treat him/her like they are learning this stuff for the first time.

As I have written before, dogs sense our emotions. They know when you are frustrated. Be careful to remain calm when working with them. I realize this is difficult when a housebroken pup pees on your furniture. Or it is difficult to remain calm when that well behaved little guy forgets how to sit properly or jumps all over you. But try to remember that this too will pass and you will have your old dog back soon. Perhaps it will not seem as bad if you remember some of the odd stuff you may have done as an adolescent.

If you are getting really frustrated and need help with your adolescent pup, I will be more than happy to talk to you about it and possibly show you some techniques to deal with it better. Please contact me at anytime!

Till next time


William Moore
William Moore Canine Training

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