Farm Dog 101: Teenage Stage

Adolescence is a hard stage for any animal, and Fix is unfortunately not an exception. While he believes he is now a “big” dog, he is actually a typical adolescent trying out varying behaviors to see what works and what doesn’t. As trying as this stage is, it would be a lot more difficult had Fix and I not established ground rules and boundaries when I first brought him home. Even though dealing with Fix is more time-consuming than ever, banishing him from the household routine will not teach him that the rules still apply. Consistency is even more critical at this stage than it was before – Fix will deliberately do something that he has previously shown he understands to be verboten and then look at me to see if I will do anything in response. Sadly for Fix, I understand this stage very, very well and am committed to ensuring that I am always able to correct Fix and redirect him to appropriate behaviors.

I have been taking Fix to the office with me on alternate weeks. This week was the week where he went with me on my day up in Albuquerque. He was on his best behavior (which is why he is allowed to spend the day at the office) so I knew that I was in for a rough time the next day. Fix did not disappoint – the next day at home his behavior was such that I lost count of the number of time outs he earned.

Yet another time out

A time out does not mean the dog spends hours in a crate. It is a short (5-15) minute break to interrupt a behavior that the dog continues to display after two attempts to redirect.

It is easy to see why so many dog owners who fail to establish rules and boundaries with puppies, either stuff their adolescent dog in a crate for long periods or throw the dog out into the backyard, and then when the dog is between 7 and 9 months of age relinquish the dog to a shelter because it still hasn’t learned how to be a “good” dog.

Having been through this before, I know there is light at the end of the tunnel and by including Fix in the household and being consistent in correcting misbehavior and redirecting to appropriate behaviors, I will eventually reap the rewards of a well-mannered dog.

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