Surviving your dog’s “Terrible Teens”

From six months to as late as 18 months puppies can take on a major change.

You have gotten a puppy. You have house trained him and he knows basic obedience such as sit and stay. You have even taught him how to give you a paw and to sit cute for pictures. You feel like you have it all figured out.

Then something strange starts to happen when your furry buddy is about six months old. All of a sudden he doesn’t want to sit when asked. He pulls like crazy on the leash and nips at you in the house. He even is beginning to go to the bathroom in the house again from time to time and is beginning to chew on the furniture. And where did all of this energy come from? What is going on? Welcome to your puppy’s adolescent period otherwise known as his “Terrible Teens”.

From six months to as late as 18 months puppies can take on a major change. They exhibit excess energy and find it hard to settle or listen to you. It might seem like they are deliberately trying to make you angry or being rebellious. Actually, their brains do not physically develop those abilities as we can. Your dog is physically growing into his body and becoming aware of its capabilities. At the same time and more importantly your puppy is experiencing an overabundance of energy due to surges in certain bodily chemicals and hormones. Sounds like a human teenager doesn’t it? Unfortunately, this time period is the number one time in a dog’s life span when they are re-homed, surrendered to a shelter or abandoned. Their human guardians feel overwhelmed and give up on their fuzzy buddy. Fortunately this period does not last forever. By 18 months the dog begins to experience an easing of these energetic surges and begins to calm down as it approaches adulthood at 2 years old.

There are important things you need to do to ensure you both will survive this challenging time together.

Be Patient

Be patient with your pup. Getting excited or angry and yelling at your dog will only add to his inability to settle and could harm your relationship. It could also leave him with the impression that you are having a good time too since you seem as full of energy as him. This will actually reinforce the behavior. You will want to keep his day as even as possible with his energy.

Management

When your dog is acting in a way that you do not prefer, look to yourself first and do not blame the dog. What can you do differently to instead set him up to succeed? This means putting your dog in environments and scenarios that greatly reduce or remove all together the opportunity to exhibit poor behaviors. Do not ask your dog to do more than he can handle. Rehearsed behaviors become regular behaviors. Be sure to find alternate things for him to do that are more successful. Especially when he seems so energetic that he cannot settle and is getting into trouble.

Physical and Mental Exercise

Your dog is a bundle of energy right now. He needs you to provide good outlets and plenty of opportunities to release that energy. This needs to include mental exercise with work to eat games for example. Something as simple as placing treats around the house for your dog to work to find can be very rewarding.

Train, Train, Train

Continue to work with your dog on basic obedience. Work on resource control and show him how he needs to behave to get the things he values and that he can always count on you to provide it for him. This will also help with his impulse control and his security. Ask him to sit and wait to get his food until you send him to the bowl for example.

Be patient with your fur buddy. He does love you and needs you. He is having a tough time too with his teenage period. The two of you working patiently together on this will make you both happy for a lifetime that you weathered the storm.

For more information about help in training your dog please contact Chris Takacs either by phone at 269-612-7424 or by email at chris@takacsdogtraining.com.

A quick introduction to Takacs Dog Training video

Takacs Dog Training LLC is a force free, positive reinforcement dog training experience. Serving Chicagoland and Northwest Indiana. Evening and weekend training sessions available.

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