Where’s My Puppy Gone? (ASBO Teen Pups)
What Happened To My Puppy!? (ASBO Puppies)
It’s no secret that during lockdown a lot of people took advantage of being at home and saw the opportunity in their lives to introduce a small-fluffy slug-like bag of wrinkles to the family. Do you remember that? When they slept much of the day, they couldn’t out-run you and they’d do just about anything for a little piece of chicken.
Those were the days!
Several months on, the wrinkles are gone, the training’s gone out of the window, the little nipping can be the equivalent of fighting off a small crocodile and their favourite treats only seem to work on THEIR terms!
Pups can hit adolescence as early as 6 months and for larger breeds this can continue up to 18 months.
Many of you reading this will feel like this article has been written about you and your dog – but let me reassure you, I’ve seen dozens of owners with adolescent dogs these past few months and all of them are wondering what’s happened to their dog!
For our dogs adolescence is a particularly difficult time in their development – for many this is their most difficult time for both dog and owner. Your pup is experiencing a real surge of hormones at the moment causing big changes in emotional states from day to day. Often our pups are becoming more independent, “wilful” and easily frustrated. (Is this all sounding a little familiar? It should do, whether it is/was your own children or maybe you were a terrible teen yourself!)
The key thing to remember with your pup at this stage is, they are not choosing to be difficult – this is all part of their development and as a Puppy owner this is all part of the Gauntlet that is getting your pup to adulthood!
During this time, lower your expectations do the things both you and your dog find enjoyable, relaxing. Pick the quiet, moochy walk where you see less people over the busy, frustrating road walk or the packed park where Pup might get over-aroused and over-stimulated easily.
This is not a time to push your dog, train difficult behaviours or to try to socialize them heavily. You may find your recall has all but disappeared, your loose-lead walking is anything but loose and your dogs focus is anywhere but on you. Reactivity can rear its noisy-head as your pup may begin barking and lunging at other dogs, people or just random objects on walks (Yes, we’ve all been that embarrassed owner whose dog is barking at a log, sign or a balloon). Your pup may hit the other end of the spectrum and want to spend all their time running over to other dogs and people whilst forgetting you even brought them to the park!
But do not dismay, this is a period your Pup must go through as must you. Unfortunately statistics show pups are more likely to be rehomed during this period. This is a good time to stock up on large amounts of alcohol or comfort food just to take the edge off (for human consumption only!).
For me and my owners I try to stress a key objective over these difficult Months.
Get through adolescence by avoiding coming into conflict with your pup as much as possible, pushing them into frustrating situations or setting them up for failure. That means sacrificing for a time what you had before or we’re expecting from having a dog. The real risk we run by pushing our Adolescence dogs too much is these new behaviours which our dog is showing may become learnt and stronger meaning they may remain after our dog has hit adulthood. Better to batten down the hatches now, make the right decisions for our struggling pups and come out the other end of that tunnel with as little to train out of our dogs as possible.
If you’re struggling with your dog during this difficult time and need advice or would like to seek training help, don’t hesitate to get in touch.