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Teenage Wasteland


Awe the adolescent phase. Every dog goes through it. It can vary in severity from barely noticeable to feeling like the dog from Marley AND Me just possessed your dog. Adolescence usually starts between 6 months and 1 year and lasts for a few months. Luckily it comes and goes. Your dog may be ornery for a week then return to your loving companion for a week then the orneriness returns and then disappears again. In the interest of full disclosure, ornery may be sugar coating it a bit. What you’re likely to experience is major attitude no different than a rebellious teenager. For example, you have trained your dog to know how to sit. You ask your dog to sit before getting a treat. Instead of sitting your dog looks at you with a defiant look that says “no, I don’t think I feel like listening to you right now”. He completely ignores you and walks away. You stand there dumbfounded and think “oh no he didn’t”. Well I’m sorry to tell you but oh yes he did! And this is only the beginning. No doubt about it, it takes patience on your part and continually reminding yourself that there is light at the end of the tunnel. And yes, there is without a doubt light at the end of the adolescent stage. Your dog will return to your sweet obedient love nugget and it will be practically overnight. Yeah! But here’s how you can help your dog get through this stage: 1) Get your dog into a “positive reinforcement” training program. 2) Be consistent with your dog. 3) Stay calm and don’t show your frustration. Being overly emotional is a sign of weakness to your dog. Overly emotional responses include angry responses such as yelling or screaming, throwing items, and slamming doors. 4)  DON”T HIT YOUR DOG! Being physical with your dog can cause irreparable damage to your relationship with your dog. 5)  Do not free feed your dog. Feed your dog 1-3 times a day and pick the food up after 15 minutes no matter if there is still food in it or not. 6)  Ask your dog to sit for anything he wants whether it’s treats, toys, a walk, a car ride, or his meal. 7)  Reward the good your dog does at every opportunity to help reinforce the behavior you want your dog to repeat. *But most importantly just know this is a phase. Your dog hasn’t changed permanently. He will return to the wonderful dog you first fell in love with so be patient and kind. You will both get through it.