A lot of dog owners face the same problem around 6 to 18 months into their puppy’s lives. What was once your well-trained, obedient and adorable pup has turned, almost overnight, into a rebellious terror! Don’t fear! This is extremely common and will not last forever. Sadly, shelters contain a lot of dogs within this age range as owners become irritated with the behaviour and do not have the patience to see it through. In this blog we go into detail about your puppy’s change both physically and mentally and what you can do to get them back on track.
Just like human kids, your puppy will experience the rocky road to becoming an adolescent, and sometimes it is not pretty. Your puppy usually begins to show this change in behaviour around the time he starts to loose his puppy teeth and his adult teeth begin to show. This usually takes owners by surprise since it is likely your puppy stopped chewing a while back and you thought you were finally safe to leave your shoes, remotes, children’s toys in reach of your puppy. Unfortunately the second teething phase tends to do a lot more damage than the first as your dog now has a stronger and larger jaw, meaning they can chew twice as much! If you are unable to supervise your dog at home during the day it is recommended you crate them or use a large pen filled with acceptable and durable dog chewing toys to keep them entertained. Always reward and praise your dog calmly when they use the correct chew toys or dog chew treats. Once your dog’s adult teeth have fully grown in the need to chew should come to an end.
Your adolescent dog can be disruptive, cheeky and start to ignore your commands. This is because your puppy’s immature brain is developing as well as their bodies and it can be a very stressful and confusing time for them. Remember to take a deep breath, calm yourself down and remember that your puppy is bound to be just as frustrated and befuddled as you are. As well as the mental changes, your dog will be going through hormonal changes. You may notice your dog suddenly marking their territory, not listening to you when approaching other dogs, humping anything that moves and ‘bullying’ family members. These are all signs of hormonal changes and an attempt to assert dominance in the home. Neutering or spaying your dog can help to eliminate hormone related behaviours. Please contact your vet to discuss neutering.
So what can you do to get both you and your dog through this phase?
- First, have patience. There is no quick fix for this phase but your dog needs a strong and dominant parent to guide them. Your dog will be able to feel when you are stressed and they will also take on that energy. Try to remain as calm and assertive as possible.
- Start introducing small training sessions back into your dog’s daily routine. Practice your basic cues such as sit, down, stay and recall in the house as well as out on walks and use lots of positive reinforcement as well as tasty treats to keep them interested.
- Make them ‘earn’ their food. Start feeding your dog after they have completed exercise such as a walk or a game of fetch. Also teach your dog to sit and wait before you feed them. He will soon learn that once he has obeyed your order, he will get what he wants. Fun games such as Snuffle Mats and food puzzles will also encourage your dog to work for their food. Do not let your dog bully you into giving him attention or food. Dogs respect those who control the resources in their lives, especially food.
- Encourage positive play with your dog. You will probably notice your dog has a lot more energy now than when he was only a few months old and sleeping 18 hours a day. Playing a game of tug, fetch or football with your dog will release built up energy and also teach them how to play fairly. If you have children at home you should also teach them how to play correctly with your dog to avoid any accidents. There should be no ear or tailing pulling, no screaming or erratic behaviour and no snatching of toys or food.
- As well as play, walks should be increased at this time in your dog’s life. A young dog will benefit from at least two walks a day. This way they can blow off steam, interact with different people and dogs and use their natural instincts to smell new and exciting things. Mix your walks up and try different dog friendly locations. This will also mean your dog will be more relaxed at home and more likely to sleep than raise hell! Find out more about our solo walks here.
- Socialise. Your dog can benefit a lot by being in the presence of other (and older) dogs at this time. Dog’s will pick up on positive behaviour traits and quickly learn manners from dogs that have been through the teenage chapter and survived! Walking and playing with their furry pals will also tire your dog out and encourage calm behaviour once you are home. Find out more about our group walks here.
- Remember that your dog is a big part of your life but for your dog, you are their entire life. They are really depending on you at this time in their lives to guide them through and help produce a well trained, socialised and happy pooch. Keep positive and enthusiastic about your four-legged best friend and together you will survive the teenage phase!
Here at Lou’s Dog Services we are here to help make you and your dog’s lives easier. Contact us today to book your dog’s group walks, solo walks or doggy day care sessions.