Teenage Troubles in dogs

Why Teenage Troubles In Dogs Causes Homelessness

Has it ever crossed your mind that your dog would be better off in a different home?  Have you ever thought, “Never again, I’ll never have another dog. This was a mistake”?

 If so, you are not alone but this quote will hopefully help you pause for a moment,

 “One day you’re gonna remember me and how much I loved you, then you’re going to hate yourself for letting me go!"

HQ Lines, tumbir

So, before you reach the point of hating yourself here are some words of support.

My mother taught young children for many years before opting to teach preteens and teens.  I look back at my own teens and can now admit that I went through a “phase!”  I am sure you can too.  My mother was often amused by the transformation of the “Sweet, cheerful, chatty young things” of prior years who passed through her class as “Monosyllabic, grumpy but sometimes sweet,” teen things. Leading me to question can our dogs suffer the ‘teen phase’?


After interacting with a number of dogs over the years I had formed an opinion that dogs do indeed pass through a teen phase but friends would laugh dismissively and assure me that this is not the case.  Even friends from the “dog world” would not consider the notion.  I was both surprised and pleased therefore when investigating this idea to find that there has been scientific research that concludes my instinctive hunch has a strong basis in fact.


It is reported by many animal charities that dogs are most likely to be surrendered by their owners when the pet reaches approximately two years of age.  It is also recognised that many of the people voluntarily giving up their pets are very distressed to be doing so.  There will always be a few people who tire of a pet and lose interest once the ‘cute’ baby phase is past.  However, most owners giving up on pets do so reluctantly because they feel that they have failed in some way and that they are not suitable to be a dog owner.  This is really sad for both human and dog, as the bond formed, once broken, is distressing for both.  Could it be that puppies that were seemingly responding well to training and were a pleasure to be with becoming rebellious for a period when fully grown? 


So, if your relationship with your dog could do with some improvement, here are some suggestions that might help:


They Are What They Eat, Just Like Us!

 My aforementioned mother developed a habit of handing me bowls of fresh pineapple some years ago.  This went on for quite a long time and I never understood why.  Apparently, she had read that fresh pineapple contains serotonin, which is a mood enhancer.  She cannot confirm if it worked but says that I could possibly have been unbearable without it!!


I am not suggesting pineapple as a food supplement for your dog, but looking carefully at what you are feeding and when you are feeding might help.  Teenage humans, especially boys, are known need to eat more as they finish off their growing.  It is worth checking if you are feeding the correct amount to your dog that will vary depending on their age and size.  Also, if your dog is less responsive or more destructive at a particular time of day it is worth changing a feeding time to fall just before this period.


Whilst pineapple is not being suggested for your pet, dogs like humans do sometimes benefit from food supplements.  There are foods such as Autarky’s range or Pooch & Mutt that are free of ingredients that some dogs find hard to digest such as the grain that is found in many foods.


We are all much more cooperative when we’re not feeling ‘hangry


Find Your Dog’s Weakness

 Sometimes puppies outgrow their toys, just like children.  The thing they would carry around and play with for hours they suddenly have no interest in.  Instead, they become interested in many things we would rather they avoided.  For example, has your dog suddenly taken to being rude to guests, growling and appearing aggressive?  How wonderful that he wants to protect you but unless you want to live like a hermit, this has to stop!  Find out what your dog appears to value above all else, is it attention, small treat item etc.  Work on using these things to reinforce positive behaviours.  A few quick walks, first thing in the morning or immediately when you return home from having been out provided with an opportunity for an energetic dog to let off steam and stretch his paws so as to speak. These should be in addition to the main exercise not in place of.  One word of warning, some dogs will be reluctant to return home the first few times you attempt this as they can be confused and think this is a poor substitute for their daily walk. Be prepared for some reluctance to return home until the new schedule is established.


Catch Your Bad Dog Being Good

 If you have ever taken a dog to a training class you will most probably have been told that positive reinforcement of wanted behaviours is best.  Be consistent, praise and reward the behaviours you wish to reinforce.  Consistency is important.  For example, if you play with your dog in the garden at the weekend and when calling him to come in, you laugh if he tears off after a squirrel and is all confused when it disappears up a tree, don’t be surprised and annoyed when you need to leave home for an important appointment and your dog won’t listen to your command to come in during a similar scenario.  Try not to loose your temper, this just escalates the problem and creates more stress and friction. 


Actions Speak Louder than Words, so perhaps before buying a new adorable puppy or giving one away, consider what you could do to change your relationship or adopt a homeless animal instead!

Peter Chamberlain

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