Ah, the terrible teens. Yep, it’s not just humans that go through them! We experience them too! Crickey, I remember mine - I was a bit of a handful. Suddenly, just when you think you are getting there, it all just seems to change overnight and the dog reverts to all the annoying puppy-like behaviours that you thought you had trained them not to do. Loose-lead walking returns to pulling, recall goes out of the window, they start chewing cables again, tugging on clothes for attention and well that hole they dug up in the garden three months ago? Yep, that’s re-appeared too. But don’t panic, this is all completely normal.
Like human teenagers, adolescent pups will also start to test the boundaries. This is the age where puppies become more independent and they reach sexual maturity. While females come into season, and along with that come the associated behavioural changes, males experience dramatic fluctuations in their hormone levels. It is a challenging and testing age and it is no wonder that this is the most common time that people give up their dog for re-homing.
Holly has undoubtedly hit her adolescent stage and to be honest, she can be a bit of a pain from time to time! Now I know what mum and the family felt when I was this age. My mum must have had the patience of a saint and I will admit that while Holly is testing the boundaries a bit – I don’t think she is quite as much of a handful as I was - but don’t tell her I said that! I used to steal things in adolescence and this became quite troublesome when I experienced that need to guard, as discussed in a previous article. I also demanded to say hello to everyone, having a toddler like tantrum if I didn’t get my way - and my recall? Non-existent. I do appreciate all my mum did for me and I thank her for all her patience! I’m not sure where I would be today if she hadn’t taken the time to keep me on the straight and narrow.
Holly’s testing the boundaries in other ways – her lead walking took a step backwards, mainly because she just wants to run and has a paddy if she can’t. She decided to hunt for things to chew when we were left home alone – she chomped her way through dad’s Mac charger – thankfully it wasn’t plugged in (to be honest we are all in agreement that it was his fault for leaving it out in the first place – sorry dad!) And she ripped apart a phonebook – now I’m also going to be honest here and say that I did join in, because, well, the phonebook was already destroyed and she was having such a good time that it was just too tempting to resist! She also likes to dig – the lawn and mum’s pot plants – I don’t see the attraction with this, yuck, mucky paws? Me? Absolutely not! I’m a pampered pooch and hate getting my paws dirty – I’ve left her well alone with that one!
So how long does this all last for, you might be asking? Well depending on the breed and size of your dog, it can range but usually it starts at around six months and can go right up until 18 months. In fact, I only really started to calm down when I hit two. Yup, it’s a long time but try to remember that it does not last forever. You will feel like something has gone wrong somewhere and you will be overcome by feelings of failure and frustration at times. But please don’t feel upset and angry – just blame it on the terrible teens! Keep your training sessions short and sweet. Know when is a good time to quit – you should always end on a high. And if you feel like you’re getting frustrated, remove yourself from the situation and count to ten. Just stay patient and consistent, and it will all pay off!
Love for now,