I work with A LOT of adolescent dogs (that period between 5 months old and 2 years old where your dog stops listening to you) and they often struggle with similar issues:
- Jumping up on guests (including mouthing/nipping, head ramming and barking)
- Stealing objects/food off counters
- Digging in the garden
- Fence fighting with neighbour dogs
- Barking at people/dogs that pass by the home or yard
- Not coming when called
- Knocking you over on the stairs or when going out the door
- Barking/lunging on leash
It’s 100% normal to experience these issues and they do take some training to resolve. The good news is that you don’t have to suffer a rude dog. Teaching manners is something we all need to do with our dogs and the adolescent dog can pose some challenges as they become more interested in the world around them rather than you.
One of the main things to keep in mind is setting your dog up for success. Very few young dogs can handle polite greeting of guests at the doorway. Instead put your dog on leash, grab some rewards and work on your sit stay or better yet teach that dog to go to their crate, wait quietly and then bring them out on leash once the guests are settled and the energy is quiet.
In any situation you want to ask yourself – can my dog actually do what I’m asking in this specific situation. Your answer might be yes my dog knows how to sit but have I taught my dog to sit when he/she is extremely excited? Well it’s time to practice. Ring your own doorbell, get your jazzed up and then ask them for a sit or a down. Reward the behaviour of switching from over hyped to calm. It’s a skill we need to teach.
Anytime your dog is doing something you don’t like ask yourself “what would I like my dog to do instead?”
- Sit stay instead of jumping on people
- Get your toy instead of stealing the food on the counter
- Playing fetch instead of digging holes
- Coming when called instead of fence fighting
- Focused on you when off leash instead of running freely ignoring you (yes you can build that up)
- Waiting patiently while you walk up or down stairs or go through a door
- Focused on you instead of barking/lunging on leash
Teach your dog to focus, that you’re important and that they can have impulse control and you’ll have a dog that you can happily take everywhere with you. If you need help ensure to enrol in a good quality positive reinforcement training class in your community. At Where’s Your Sit we offer the Adventure Dog Program where the dogs learn right in the park amongst everyday distractions.