Did My Dog Just Flip Me Off?

If you chuckled at the title, you may have an adolescent dog. You have our sympathies. Canine adolescence is generally considered to be from around 6 months to around 2 years of age. Canine adolescence is the most challenging time to share your life with a dog. Case in point, most dogs are relinquished to shelters during adolescence. Adolescent dogs are not as cute as they were as puppies and adolescent behaviors quickly become overwhelming.

Adolescent dogs are breaking curfew. They’re listening to annoying music way too loud. They are embarrassing you on social media. They are even voting for the opposite candidate you voted for. This is who they are right now. However, they’re not trying to give you a hard time, they’re having a hard time.

Adolescent dogs are becoming more independent and your guidance is paramount to their survival. With training plus mental and physical exercise, you can escort them to the other side of adolescence. The other side of 2 years old is so much better, hang in there!

Consistency is kindness. Make your home environment as predictable as possible for your dog. Put your laundry and shoes away. Instead of leaving your dinner on the table unattended, stash it in the oven. Find a routine that works for you and your dog. Remember, if you gave her cute points as a puppy but now decide that her puppy behavior is annoying, it may take her longer to learn these new rules.

Increase mental stimulation. Get rid of the food bowl. Give your dog working meals with training and food puzzles. Take a group manners class. Train some tricks. Mental stimulation gives your dog a positive outlet for her energy.

Increase physical exercise. Walking around the block is not nearly enough exercise for most dogs. Exercise requirements increase exponentially from puppyhood to adolescence. Find safe places for off leash exercise. Find a well run doggie daycare. Consider taking your dog swimming or starting a dog sport!

Find a force-free trainer to help you teach your dog desirable behaviors. We can all quickly list the behaviors we don’t want our dog doing. However, we need to identify and train desirable behaviors to replace the, ahem, adolescent eye roll.

A lot of trainers offer free “Ask the Trainer” events. We’re hosting two this week ourselves! If you are in the Metro Washington DC area, join us for one of our dog training Q & As:

  • Thursday 7/12 from 5p-7p at Republic Restorations Distillery in Washington DC.

  • Sunday 7/15 from 4:30p-6:30p at Denizens Microbrewery in Silver Spring MD.

Treat yourself to a drink and gain some training tips as you sip!

Not in the Metro Washington DC area or have questions? Contact us at www.behaviorunited.com.