How To Survive The Terrible Teens
Did you get a new pup this spring or summer? That means they are more or less in adolescence now. Oh boy! From about 6 - 18 months, your cute little puppy enters his terrible teens and annoying adolescence stage! This can mean forgetting everything you've taught him (he may even backtrack on housebreaking), tons of excess energy, maybe some nipping, and general rebellion. Canine teens are easily frustrated and lack self-control - it's your job to help them through this tough time. Sadly, this is the age when many pups are given to shelters or re-homed.
Some people say their dog turned into a "bad" dog at eight months old. Wrong! Fido isn't a bad pup; he's just got extra energy and hormones! Just like a human teenager, this is the time they act out. You and Fido will survive "brat-olescence" if you know it's coming and have a few strategies to deal with it.
First, let's talk about how this may play out. Your pup is gaining confidence now and may get fresh with other family members and pets in the household. He may lack focus; Fido could forget how to walk on a leash, or start demanding frequent attention. He may get inventive when it comes to entertaining himself (like with your leather shoes).
Our first piece of advice is to stick with your dog. This behavior is entirely normal, and he is not a bad dog. You'll need to step up Fido's training, so continue with basic obedience work. An easy thing to work on is control. For example, make him sit before you give him his meal or while you leash him up for a walk. These simple tactics will help him learn impulse control.
Fido will need more physical and mental stimulation; he's got far more energy now than he had as a puppy and doesn't need as many naps. Long walks are great (we can help), but he'd love some run-free time. Find a safe, fenced spot where you can toss a tennis ball or just let him sniff. Games like "find it' are fun and use considerable mental energy. Even a simple game like hiding treats in the house for him to find is fun and will get Fido thinking. Then try it outside to make the game more challenging. The "leave it" game teaches self-control. It's fun and educational.
It's a good idea to crate train your dog but it is important to do so in a way that teaches him to enjoy his crate. Putting Fido in the crate with a well-stuffed Kong is a good way to start. The crate is handy if Fido is being rambunctious and needs a little quiet time.
Take your buddy out in the car, for walks, to the vet, and to group training classes. These activities use extra energy and help Fido get comfortable with various new situations. Some pups have a more difficult time with adolescence. If you feel he isn't gaining control or you're out of your depth, don't wait; call a behaviorist or trainer to help you.
Fluffy's "brat-olescence" is very similar to Fido's; she may turn into a little kitty monster, but keep her exercised, play with her, and get some toys that stimulate her mentally. If you can give her some safe time outdoors, do that! Use a harness and leash in your yard. Crate training can be beneficial for our feline friends as well. You and Fluffy will get through the terrible teens!
Please remember that patience is the key to getting through this crucial period. This teen period is challenging for you, Fido, and Fluffy. They will need your love and understanding to turn into a terrific adult!