Puppies are adorable and lovable when you first bring them into your home. They listen, study, and follow you wherever you go. They listen to your instructions and often pick up on training surprisingly well. Then things change. That young pup you brought home suddenly decides they are going to do what they want.
Basically, your pup has become a teenager. This normally happens when a pup reaches their six month old mark, and will carry on until around eighteen months to two years, depending on breed. Unbeknownst to many owners, this is a naturally rebellious period in their lifetime, but is commonly misdiagnosed as a behavioral problem, such as tearing things up and not listening to you (sound familiar?).
What every owner needs to know (especially if it’s your first time raising a puppy) is that this isn’t just a phase they’re going through. Sure, they will eventually outgrow it, but what they learn during that time period will affect their behavior for the rest of their doggy lives.
During this time of your dog’s life, they will test you – and all others in their family, at every turn. Everything they will do is a test of your authority. If they feel they can get away with doing something like nibbling or ignoring, it will be a habit almost impossible to break later on in life.
Be persistent in your training
One effective strategy you can do with a rebel pup is not to let them have their way. They will test your boundaries, such as grab a snack from unsuspecting hands or go over to the neighbor’s yard when they know they’re not supposed to. They’ll even test you when you’re not present, like open up the cabinets and looking for their treats while you’re at work.
This brings us to consistency. If you enforce your training or commands only some of the time, then your pup will begin to realize they only need to listen some of the time. For their safety and that of others, it’s essential that they listen to you every time.
Take for instance, the simple act of calling them over to you. Your pup looks up but they don’t come. In fact, they decide to go right back to playing with their fluffy octopus toy. In this situation, it’s easy to simply let it slide because they’re obviously enjoying some time to themselves. But during their rebellious age, that simple act can assure them that they only have to listen to you when they think it’s favorable for them.
This dog characteristic could basically be summed up as stubbornness. To deal with this means that you have to be more stubborn than they are.
Now this doesn’t mean you have to drag them around or play rough when they aren’t listening. It means that you have to display that you are the one with the authority. Rather than letting your pup play and ignore you when you’re calling them to come inside, it’s time to go get them and bring them inside.
To help increase their reactivity to you and your authority, obedience commands should be regularly practiced, even if it’s only for ten or fifteen minutes a day. Have them put the ball down because it’s not play-time – it’s time to listen. By doing this simple act, you let them know when it’s time to listen and when they are allowed to play and do what dogs do naturally – play.
Patience is a puppy parent’s virtue
Many owners get irritated during this time in a pup’s life. Perhaps it’s because they don’t know what’s going on or simply mistake it for behavior issues. It is a behavior situation, but it’s nothing you can’t work through, as many pet parents will tell you.
So never be discouraged that your pup doesn’t listen to you. They are listening, but they’re just testing you by rebelling a little. You have to be patient during this process. Indeed it can be extremely frustrating to deal with a “teenage” pup, but that is a part of being a pet-parent.
A well-trained companion is something that has to be worked at. Time must be invested, and patience must be practiced. But as long as you understand what it is that your dog is going through, and you have an idea of what they are thinking (go back to your own adolescent years), you can rest assured that your pup will grow into a well-mannered, highly trained, and extremely happy life-long companion.