Last week we posted about Puppies and all things puppy related. This week, we focus on the next phase….your dog’s teen years.
Two-legged kids are not the only ones to go through an awkward phase. Adolescence—usually thought of as the period from four months to two years of age, a little later for larger breeds—often feels like an honest-to-goodness teenage rebellion. Your young dog develops selective hearing, seems to forget manners they know well, and reverts to puppyish behavior like mouthing, jumping, barking, and destructive chewing. Disheartening as such apparent setbacks can be, remember that adolescence is a phase. It, too, shall pass.
Meanwhile, here are five tips for keeping your sanity intact and raising a polite, easygoing adult dog:
Be consistent with your pooch.
Consistency in routines, training, and expectations is key. Just like human children, young dogs do better with boundaries and rules in place.
Use life rewards.
Dinner, treats, walks, belly rubs, play sessions, a spot on the couch—all are opportunities for manners practice. Use things your dog enjoys to reward him throughout the day for a quick practice of sit or other cues he knows. A little training all day long will help keep your dog’s manners muscles flexing.
Take a dog activity class.
Now is a great time to take training classes or engage with a private trainer to get tips and regular training time in. You wouldn’t consider your human children’s education finished after elementary school, right? Think of this time as junior high for your dog.
Pile on the dog exercise.
The more doggie workouts you can fit in, the better behaved your dog is likely to be. Exercise is the antidote to adolescent hyperactivity. (Just consult with your vet before undertaking strenuous sports. Don’t go running with your dog until he is at least 18 months old, for example, it may damage bone development.)