The problem with puppies is that sooner, rather than later, they are teenagers and teenagers as we all know can be a major pain in the rear.
Someone told me once, “you were the smartest you’ll ever when you’re 17”. At the time it didn’t make a whole lot of sense to me, silly statement with not an ounce of truth to it since there was so much left to learn, but good luck teaching me; yet the older I got the more I saw the truth in that statement. When you’re 17, you ARE the smartest person in the world as you know it, certainly smarter than your parents who know nothing, and your teachers…what do they know besides books? It takes time, experience and age to realize that the older you get the less you really know. Dogs aren’t too much different in that respect; all of that “puppy training”, all of that time and effort, that belief that the two of you had a real understanding goes right out the window in what seems like a blink of an eye and all of a sudden they are deaf, dumb and blind; especially to your requests. Everything and anything on the planet is suddenly more interesting that you are, or seemingly ever were. So where did all of that training go?
Well, just as with children it went with gender maturity and entering into the area of finding ones place in the world.
This, to me, is one of the most crucial times in the human/dog relationship; it is when the real bonds are formed, when the trust is built or destroyed, when the relationship is cemented. It can be a trying time for most dog owners who often fail to consider that it is also a trying time for their young dog and many mistakes are often made in communication during this time. The honeymoon is over, it’s time for the real work to begin to build that life long trust and working relationship; and have no doubt, every family companion dog out there has a very heavy work load. Where specialty dogs, trained to do specific tasks day in and day out have a pretty black and white set of rules to abide by, the average family companion lives in a world of 100’s of gray areas and the difficulty in communicating with a species that will never understand any human language with humans having very little real understanding as to how to communicate in a way their dog understands is a trying time for all.
The teenage period can make or break a dog/human relationship and is the most prevalent time span in which people opt to get rid of their dog; it’s the time when every bad behavior imaginable begins to emerge. Not that much different than that of a teen age child.
Puppy training trains puppies and just like with all species, education must continue and advance to meet the needs and requirements for development. Just because you had the “perfect puppy” and did everything you were suppose to do just so, doesn’t mean their training and education is over; quite the contrary, it’s just beginning on a whole new level.
So sit back and think about all of those aspirations you had for your pup the day you brought it home, all of those things you wanted to do with you pup once it was grown, because this is the time to begin seeing those dreams realized by advancing their education to suite their age and needs.
It is also the time when they need you the most and the time that they’re brain needs the stimulation of more learning, the time when they need you to show them you’ve got their back and you are in fact a team, a friend, a companion to them as you want them to be to you.
Get creative with your training, don’t get stuck in the rut of “basic obedience redundancy”. If your pup was taught the basics, they are all still there despite their refusal at times to comply or acknowledge your commands/requests; reprimanding them for things outside of their control is of no use to them or you and will do far more damage than good . Use those commands in a whole new way to build more commands, make them fun and engaging as opposed to falling in the trap of ‘barking’ commands at your young dog and being frustrated when they ignore you. Obedience commands should not be used to “control” your dog but rather to give them the basic skill set to work with you.
…I will go into some detail as to what one can do with some of those basic obedience commands to help build a strong relationship and bond with your companion, your housemate, your friend and confident in another post.