Welcome To The Age Of Objection!
As adolescence hits and hormones take hold, your adorable pup begins to morph into the hound from hell! Recall becomes a thing of the past as Fido finds his (or her) independence; dogs of the opposite sex become irresistible and getting your pooch to respond to even basic cues can feel like an uphill struggle. Quite simply – the age of objection has arrived!
So, what can you do?
Well, just as children need more than a primary school education, our dogs need more than a few weeks of Puppy Classes to manage their transition into adulthood. So actually, training your dog in this ‘post-puppy school’ period is crucial. Indeed, Animal Behaviourist, Kersti Seksel says “ignoring a dog’s education during adolescence can be fatal. Behavioural problems can take hold and are the number one reason for dogs being surrendered to shelters.”
Keep on training …
In addition to all the hormones coursing through your dog’s body, Kersti Seksel notes that often this coincides with other life changes:
- “Teenage dogs become kind of ‘unemployed’ as they spend more and more time home alone while you’re at work; until the dog resorts to self-employment, meaning they dig up the garden, shred the sofa and bark at anything to relieve boredom or loneliness.
- We often stop taking our dogs to new places around 6 months so our dog’s world becomes very small.
- The result? Your dog loses the skill and stimulation of dealing with ‘new’ things;
- And, this can have a profound impact on your dog’s confidence and ability to cope with life – and lead to behaviour problems.”
Write a ‘note to self’
As your dog enters adolescence, write a ‘note to self’ to keep on expanding your dog’s mind and his world. Invest time in training with your dog – maybe take an agility class, try some trick training or attend a recall workshop – but make time to continue ‘working’ your dog’s mind. Remember: ‘training’ is best viewed an ongoing and evolving process … it never really ends (sorry!) it just takes on different ‘shapes’. So whilst you fully deserve a ‘high five’ for getting through puppy training, prepare yourself that adolescence will bring new challenges!
And the good news?
In my experience, dogs LOVE learning. They thrive on it. This is evident the moment I come through a client’s front door to start a training session: The dog is soooo excited and so attentive. Maybe it’s the Waitrose cocktail sausages I use but I have a hunch it’s also about the dog feeling engaged and having a ‘job’ to do:
- Like us, dogs get a kick out of achieving and succeeding at new tasks.
- And they LOVE learning WITH YOU, their human.
- Training improves your dog’s focus – and bond – with you. Both of which are vital to your partnership.
- And don’t be fooled by that cliche – in my experience older dogs (eg rescue dogs) can definitely learn new tricks! Better still, training gives your dog’s day purpose and enjoyment.
Your dog’s brain is a muscle – use it or lose it!
Help your dog navigate the obstacles of adolescence by continuing to work their mind. Quite simply – your dog’s brain is a muscle. Use it or lose it! So, when you finish that puppy school course, find a reputable dog trainer and ask what other training he or she can offer your dog.
Joyful Dogs offer you and your canine chum the following training options:
Click the links below for more information about each course. To book, contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Train your dog, have fun with your dog, feel proud of your dog!