Adolescent Dogs

Avoiding Behavior Problems

I often here clients say “my pup was such a good boy, but now that he is nearly 2, he doesn’t listen”  Adolescent dogs may become more confident, begin to ignore you, become hyperactive, be increasingly shy with guests and even lose their social skills.  What can you do?  Here are a few ideas to help your well behaved pup breeze through the teenage years. 
Have you stopped rewarding good behavior?
Many of us become so busy with our lives, we incorrectly assume that when our pup is 9 or 10 months old and has finished Manners I we are done raising him.  Unfortunately, you are just getting started!  Have you begun to assume he knows all the rules of the house?  When was the last time you used a Lure/reward technique?  Have you continued to help him see guests and strangers as a source of good things?  Does he have polite greeting skills, or is he beginning to become rude because he hasn’t practiced in a while.  Do you say “come”, then close the door and allow him to continue sniffing?  If so, what does “come” mean to your dog?  
Behaviors that are not practiced will fade, in addition, bad behaviors that become routine are much harder to break.

Regular Play Sessions
While it is not necessary for your dog to like every dog he meets, it is essential that your dog grows up to have good bite inhibition (soft mouth).  Offering your dog continued opportunities to play with a few friends each week is crucial to this development.  Continuing to hand feed and only reward when a soft mouth is used will help your dog mature with good bite inhibition.
Greeting Guests 
Many clients contact me with a similar concern: that their adolescent dog is become progressively desocialized toward unfamiliar people and strangers until eventually they become intolerant of all but a small inner circle of friends.  If your dog is beginning to shy away from guests, bark, lunge or nip at guests heels as they leave, consider taking extra steps towards positive associations with guests and strangers.  
Socialization, Socialization, Socialization

Puppy Socialization is extremely necessary for you to be able to continue socializing your adolescent dog; even into adulthood.  If you are not able to offer your young dog regular opportunities to meet new people and dogs, you may consider hiring a dog walker, take walks with friends who have calm dogs or spend time on the weekend walking the streets of Portland with a pocket full of treats.  You may need to have a party of some kind so you can have guests in your home and help your dog remember how to greet people politely. Consider taking a Canine Good Citizen Class with your young dog to keep their social skills a focus as he grows.  Young and old, all dogs need to practice their socialization skills.

Very similar to humans, dogs have their favorite friends and may want to avoid playing with dogs they have just met.  They may even snarl at a new acquaintance, yet, given time, these two may learn to trust and eventually play.  Although we hate to admit that our dog may have been in a few scuffles, it is somewhat natural for dogs to have physical altercations.  This is when owners begin to avoid all contact with other dogs and their socialization comes to a halt.  Now, the less your dog is socialized the more likely he loses his communication skills and the more likely he is to fight.

Avoid these behavior problems with continued use of Positive Training techniques and continued socialization with both new people, dogs and environments.  If you would like to do this with us, consider taking our Outdoor Adventure Class!