You love your dog. You walk together, go on adventures, snuggle, and maybe even share an occasional snack. But sometimes, no matter how cute they are, you want to scream and send them to their kennel or crate indefinitely. Yes, I’m talking about canine adolescence. If you’ve raised children, you know how difficult it can be when they reach the teen years. They are older and more self-aware; their mind is expanding. As they learn new things, they think they’re the smartest person in the room. Dogs similarly develop an attitude and thirst for knowledge. They want to experience new things, often times without your consent – they’re not entirely concerned whether you think it’s a good idea for them to run across a busy street to chase that squirrel.
How do you know your dog is going through their teen years? There are certain signs to look for. Here are some pooch pubescence indicators:
Endless energy: They want to play, and they want to do it a lot. When you’re done playing fetch and need a nap, they’re ready to go another round, or two, or three.
Short attention span: Just because they’re not listening doesn’t mean they don’t love you, but… they’re not listening.
New found interest in the opposite sex: They’re curious about that good looking Border Collie down the street.
Growing awkwardly into their adult body: Remember when you woke up that morning in junior high and you were four inches taller? Becoming full-sized takes some getting used to.
Now that we’ve reviewed some signs that your dog is going through their rebellious phase, what can you do about it? Here are a few tips that will help your dog mature into a respectful canine and help you retain your sanity.
Dog Survival Guide
Construct a fortress: Make sure you have a comfortable dog-only area where they can go if you can’t watch them or they become anxious. Think of it as a safe haven for them, not a prison. The point isn’t to exile them – they need a place where they can relax and stay away from temptation.
Exercise, exercise, exercise: Your pup is more likely to obey if they’re worn out. A healthy exercise regimen not only helps strengthen the bond between you, it uses up fido’s excess energy. When you get home from that hike in the foothills, they’ll gaze up at you with appreciation and take a nap – what could be better?
Stay calm: Whether you’re enforcing a rule or giving praise, the trick is to not make it a big ordeal. If you get excited, your dog gets excited. If you’re mellow, they’ll follow that too. If you’re telling them to get off the couch, be firm, but calm. If you’re handing out a treat for a job well done, approach it the same way. Consistency is the key.
The teenage years can be a trying time, but once you make it through, your bond with your dog will be stronger than ever, and you will truly understand the phrase “man’s best friend.”