Around four to six weeks after Christmas, new puppy owners can start to feel a little overwhelmed.
Their cute fluff ball of a puppy will have disappeared around the age of 14/15 weeks and been replaced with a larger adolescent version. Yes, you heard right – adolescent! Owners don’t realise that pups stop being pups at a very early age and, unfortunately, a young dog has all the same hang-ups found in a teenager or any immature mammal for that matter. The mammalian brain is very similar across all mammals and goes through the same development stages – the juvenile stage can be particularly trying.
So, what can you do with the adolescent dog in your life?
- Don’t panic! Get informed instead – Sarah Whitehead’s Adolescent Survival Guide is recommended reading.
- Don’t ruin the relationship. Hopefully, your parents didn’t ruin yours when you started showing all your teenage traits. Your dog’s brain has not fully developed so training will have its challenges.
- Be clear when providing guidance. Even over-exaggerate if need be.
- Be consistent. Don’t keep changing your mind on what the dog is or isn’t allowed to do.
- Ensure all members of the household follow the same plan, including using the same commands for the same things.
- Provide proper healthy nutrition! And yes, high-carb (high-sugar) diets will have the same effect on your young dog’s brain as it does on a human one.
- Don’t over-exercise! If you create an athlete, you will be the one who pays the price.
- Provide an enriched environment with plenty of brain games; scent-work is particularly useful for wearing your dog out.
- Twenty minutes of mental exercise is equivalent to an hour’s physical activity.
- Be aware that at around seven to nine months, your dog may get more fearful. It’s all about growing up. Be sympathetic.
- If you are struggling to understand your dog’s adolescent brain, sign up to an Beastly Thoughts workshop “How To Handle Your Teenage Dog!”. These run throughout the year.
- Attend one of the Beastly Thoughts K-Nine Essentials Training Courses – “Walk Nicely, Come Back and Stay Put”.