Coping with your puppy’s hormones and the teenage phase
Do as I say, not as I do! Last week I talked about why you should not tell your puppy off. Today I could have cheerfully killed mine! Aargh! Such a naughty little shit. My family were trying to make me laugh about it by telling me about this great blog post explaining why you shouldn’t tell off your puppy. I told them that shouting at him made me feel better.
What did he do? He climbed over the back of the sofa onto the sideboard, dug some soil out of a plant pot, (having already killed off the plant that was in there last week). And he got one of my Christmas gnomes and de-stuffed it. Thanks Quin.
Why does your puppy’s behaviour get worse?
When they begin to reach sexual maturity, your puppy goes through what is known as the ‘teenage phase’. I remember a couple of years ago, one of my puppy owners saying to me “When do they stop being difficult and annoying?” I (unhelpfully) replied “Around two years of age.” Hopefully it’s not quite that bad.
At two years of age, you have a fully-formed adult dog. From six months old though, you have an adult-sized dog with a puppy’s mind. They are still bouncy, lively, playful, untrained and annoying. They still chew, destroy things, demand attention and generally fill up more time than you have. And their hormones are raging!
In the video above, he does a lovely wait (albeit lying down not sitting) but then won’t come to me because the spaniels are there.
This is the age that things can go a bit backwards, to be honest. That fantastic recall? Not so much now. Am I bothered? I have better things to do. You know how we worked so hard to ignore other dogs? Well now I’m going bark at them. Or chase them off. Or play with them. And when you call me, I won’t hear you. Little bugger.
Quin misbehaved this morning and last weekend because he was left unsupervised. There were other dogs in the room, but I went upstairs (to do some cycling) and l thought he would be OK. Nope. So although he doesn’t have the mindset to think ‘What can I do to really piss her off?’ he does feel a bit anxious and lonely and look around for something to do. I suppose it’s possible that me telling him off will make him decide not to do it again.
Much more likely that he won’t do it again because I have:
- moved the (now plantless) plant pot outside
- moved the sofa further from the sideboard
- asked other family to stay with him while I go upstairs
- taken him with me when I’m working or exercising
- put him in his crate if I do go out
- make sure he practises being on his own.
Dogs suffer from ‘separation anxiety‘; they get stressed if left alone. This is particularly true if they normally have company. They may have been fine for months, but as they get older they learn to depend on you more for company and care more when you are not around.
Dealing with separation anxiety is possible, but as with everything else, it takes work.
Keep practising to cope with hormones
As I prepare to watch the final of Strictly Come Dancing I think about the amount of work it takes those celebrities to achieve what they do. That catchphrase ‘Keeeeep Dancing!’ is at the heart of the high standards of performance. And my friend Sam has just won a jumping agility class at the Horse of the Year show (they have dogs too). I know the level of dedication she has for training and working with her dogs.
Basically, the more effort you make, the better behaved your dog will be. I’ve been pretty distracted recently, with all the usual Christmas crap we have to do. As a result, my puppy is not as well-behaved as he should be! So, keeeep training!
Don’t give up on your puppy
Puppies are most commonly re-homed around 6-8 months of age. The Blue Cross say “the most common reason for dogs needing our help to find them a new home is that their previous owner no longer had the time to care for a pet.” However, what this means is that people just cannot be bothered to keep on training the bloody annoying puppy. So they give up. Which is a shame, because in just a few more months you will have that dog you dreamed of having. Won’t we Quin?
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NB: I am not a dog trainer, or a dog behaviourist, just a dog breeder and owner. I can only offer my opinion, based on my experience.