How to Handle Your Dog During the Adolescent Phase

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How to Handle Your Dog During the Adolescent Phase

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The central aim of dog husbandry is to train your dog to be confident, friendly and biddable. Your dog should be capable of handling the social upheavals he faces as he navigates adolescence. It is much easier for you and your dog if he is already well trained and socialized. But you need to know how to maintain socialization through adolescence.

Changes during the adolescent phase

Things will look up if you keep working with your dog, but will worsen if you ignore the situation. As your dog reaches his second birthday, his temperament and behavior will begin to stabilize. However, if you do not stay on top, it will lead to a catastrophic and precipitous change in his manners. You should nip any unwanted behavior in the bud before it ends up becoming an ingrained habit. Here are a few things you need to be on the lookout for:

  • Household etiquette – This might deteriorate with time, especially if you take your dog’s good behavior and house training for granted. But if you train him well during his earlier months, it will stay with him till his senior years.
  • Basic manners – When a pup reaches adolescence, his basic manners might take a dive. It is easy to lure and train your pet when he is young, but as soon as he reaches the age when he starts to sniff around the rear ends of other dogs, sniff feces and urine on the grass or starts chasing squirrels, things start changing pretty fast. From his point of view, his training collides with his interests and pretty soon he will not sit down or settle down at your command.
  • Bite inhibition – This also drifts as your dog gets older and starts to develop powerful jaws. Make sure you give your dog enough chances to wrestle with his peers. Regularly handfeed him treats and kibble, and periodically examine and clean his teeth to make sure that his maintains a soft mouth.
  • Socialization – This also starts heading downhill when your dog reaches adolescence, often precipitously. As your dog keeps getting older, he will have lesser opportunities to meet unfamiliar dogs and people. By the time he is six months old, his routines are set and he starts interacting with the same people on a daily basis. Over time, he will not take to new people that well and eventually he will become intolerant towards everyone except his small group of friends.

If an adolescent dog does not go out to meet unfamiliar people from time to time, his de-socialization will be rapid. When he is five months old, he is a social butterfly but by the time he is eight months old, he starts barking and backs off people or he lunges and snaps at strangers. So make sure you take him out to meet new people regularly. You will reap dividends in the future.

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