or are they Completely Misunderstood?
Come close, listen carefully . . .
Your Teenage Dog isn’t deliberately ignoring you
I want to share something with you, life with a dog is a constant roller coaster. Whether it is worrying about how to help your puppy or new rescue settle in, concerns over their nutrition, health matters, emotional or physical aspects, and so much more. If you are anything like me, you will always be trying to figure out how to improve some aspect or another of their life. Something to keep in the forefront of your mind though, is that if you are struggling with some of their behaviours, it is very likely they are struggling too. Your dog is not plotting against you or trying to make your life harder.
Many of us have heard people say the ‘Teenage phase is the hardest”, it is common to hear people complain that their perfect puppy changes overnight and no longer listens to them or has become a complete lunatic. Lunar influences or changes aside, I have spent the last 18 months living with our own Adolescent Adonis. Trust me is he is a stunner, and this has often got him into situations he didn’t intend to, he may have a beautiful coat and amazing long ears but he really isn’t asking to be petted by every person he meets. Many of you will have heard me let you in on the secret, so for those that haven’t heard it yet, living with an adolescent can be and often is tough, it can really challenge us, but let’s be honest it is harder for our dogs. Your plan may be less than straight but it will be worth it. Enjoy the journey rather than wishing it was over.
We live in an overpopulated city, London, (although even if you don’t live here most places are overpopulated now), with ever-changing landscapes, people, noises, smells, surfaces being carved up and dug into weekly, not to mention the array of critters, all living in very close quarters with us. Life is not easy and now think back to your own teenage years, was it a peaceful, calm, easily navigated journey? Be honest.
In humans it lasts a number of years, in dogs it a matter of months, 6-18 to be more specific! Talk about a fast track into adulthood and at a speed, we can barely keep up with them. Adolescence is a time of significant growth and development inside the teenage body and brain. We often only see signs of change when every day things become ‘different’ like putting their collar or harness on becomes a challenge, touching them used to calm them but now gets them really aroused, they can no longer hear you calling them and get easily distracted by items they have seen numerous times before. Sound familiar?
On the Left is a video of my little Lupin last year in our garden, racing around, unable to engage with us, never stopping and never being able to lay down and just relax. When I lifted up the harness he would duck like he had been horrifically hit with it, I can assure you never had anything awful happened to him, but my heart broke. What was happening? How was I letting him down so badly?
Fast forward to now and the video on the right was taken only just this week. He is actually enjoying having a sniff and walking around as well as LAYING DOWN!!!!
So what changed, how can you do the same for your own dog? There are no hidden secrets, in fact, I love sharing all my experiences with all our clients. For Lupin scaling everything back, short tiny sessions focusing on scentwork and proprioception were huge benefits to him. However, reaching out getting support from some amazing trainers such as his Breeder Rach Birt from Four Paws Learning and Sarah Fisher from Animal Centered Education made all the difference to us. No matter whether you adore dogs or even work with them professionally it is always vital to have someone else guide you on your own dog. We are biased, we are blind some times to what is right in front of us and having that support it priceless.
We are so happy to be here for our clients so have listened to the suggestions and in order to help you, we have designed a course, especially for our Teenagers. We are going to go through why this can be hard for them, how to support them, how to plan in order to have you all be successful and make sure no one is pulling their hair out.
Less really is more, so planning short sessions building connection and creating a calm connection as your foundations. If you want to join us click here to grab your spot