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The Teenage Dog!

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By Sue Williams Bsc, GODT(MT), MCFBA, Chairwoman Guild of Dog Trainers 25 January 2015

At 6 months old Kali is getting really big but is still mentally very much a puppy. This juvenile teenage phase between puppyhood and adulthood is when many owners experience problems. At this age it’s a common mistake made by many to assume because their dog is now physically almost adult size that they are mentally mature too. This leads to placing unrealistic expectations on how the dog should be behaving. In addition, when you take into consideration that dogs like us during learning, experience  peaks and troughs, also there are times where learning stays on the same level known as a  plateau. At the centre I help many clients who are experiencing  problems where their dog suddenly stops responding to taught commands and becomes out of control.

Kali is definitely a teenager!  She is very happy go lucky, keen to learn and extremely energetic  exasperated by the fact she is a working bred Malinois. By using training to channel Kali’s energy and high spirits it serves two functions firstly, to tire her out and secondly, to assert and maintain my leadership in a subtle, fun manner which she understands naturally. Exercises which are really helping me maintain respect are those based around permission in play like the ones I show in the film ‘control through play’.

The exercise which will reveals the level of  control and relationship between us, more than any is the recall. It is common for owners to start experiencing problems with their dog not coming back when their dogs reach this teenage phase. Assuming a dog, like Kali has been taught a recall and understands the command to return, off lead freedom offers the ultimate test in our relationship. Whilst off lead and free she can choose whether to respond or not. If our relationship is correct Kali  will want to return to me as she loves, respects and finds me motivating. I have been spending a lot of time working on her recall and am delighted at how well she is doing but I have to remember that  learning is infinite and will continue throughout her entire lifetime. At 6 months Kali is still in the very early stages of an exciting lifelong journey.

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