The Puppy Training “Teenage Phase” Is FULL Of Surprises

As a puppy owner, you've probably noticed that there are
lots of little training challenges that come up along the way. And one very common training
challenge is the teenage phase. Now the good news is that this
happens to nearly every puppy. So you're not in a unique position, but the bad news is if you don't know
how to train through this situation, you can really set your
training back in today's video.

We're going to hear from
Kayl and instructor Meg, about Meg's one-year-old
puppy named Highlight. They're going to talk about the fact that
there are actually two points in your puppy's life where training naturally
gets a little bit more challenging. By the end of this video, you're going to be able to identify
what some of these challenges are, how to plan for them. And most
importantly, how to train through them. I'm Ken Steepe and welcome
back to McCann Dogs. Here at McCann dogs. We've helped more than a hundred
thousand dog owners overcome the same dog training challenges that you have. So if
this is your first time on the channel, make sure you hit that subscribe button
so that I can help you to have a well behaved four legged family member.

The teenage phase is a real thing. And there's a couple of times in your
dog's life that they're probably going to go through it sometimes around four
months next around seven months. And today we're going
to be talking with Meg. She's one of our head instructors
and our online trainers here. And she actually has a young
Border Collie about 11 months old. And we're going to talk about a few
examples that you went through with her around that those two
particular phases, what she did, how you dealt with it and what our viewers
at home can do to stop it with their dogs. Now, you guys might remember
highlight as a puppy because we actually, I borrowed her several times
to use in our video is, and she was such a great little
puppy. She was eager to work. I had her around maybe 10 or 11 weeks
old and she was just happy to do whatever I wanted very
much for Meg as well. And then when she probably
turned about four or five months, you started to do a
little bit more with her.

And what kinds of things did you notice
different about her at that age versus like when she was a baby baby puppy? Yep. So the biggest things would
be when she was really young, it was generally just she and I,
and the amount of stimulation, the amount of motion at even just
keeping the environment calm. Everything was easier. I generally trained at my home or
in low distraction environments. And then all of a sudden I
noticed, and it was a great thing. Just one of the things I love about her. She started to notice things more and
liked it.

So she noticed other people, she noticed other dogs she
got very confident in new situations, but that actually made it more difficult
for training because she wanted to seek out all of those things. Instead of just thinking that I was the
most exciting thing in her world. Yeah. I think it's really common for that
to happen with everybody's puppy and a common thing that people will do is they,
they get kind of swept away with the, with the puppies eagerness,
and then we do things like, let puppies pull us towards other
dogs, or we let our puppies do this.

And we let her puppies do that because
we think, Oh, look at how bold they are. This is great. And then what happens is we kind of start
to develop or allow the puppy to start rehearsing behaviors that we don't
actually want when they're older. We don't want, you know, a four month old puppy is very
different than a three-year-old dog. That's still exhibiting
those same behaviors. So what kinds of things did you notice
her doing and what did you do to work through them? Yeah, so for her absolutely motion
was the biggest distraction. She thought anything that moved was
what she needed to be involved with. So when I first brought her to class
when she was around five months or so, I noticed that she really lacked focus
as any of the other dogs in class were moving.

And what I tried to do is make
sure even with those new distractions, that I was still able to reign
her in to bring her back to me. So I made a lot of choices that some
of our students wouldn't even think to make. When I was in class, I chose to sit at the very end that
I wasn't surrounded by other dogs. I probably brought five or
six different types of treats. And I also knew that food wasn't
really her favorite thing. So I always brought a
toy to class as well. So I always tried to set myself up
for success. So I had her number one, reinforcer. Yeah. And those types of tactics can also be
applied for when you take your puppy to a new scenario, maybe you're taking
them to the park for the first time, or you're taking them to a friend's
house or whatever you're doing.

When you go to that new location, consider how many difficult challenges
that you might be applying to your puppy at once. Are they round
new people environment? How much freedom are you giving them?
Are they on leisure? Are they off-leash? So it's really important
to set them up for success. She knew she was in a busy
environment, something that was new. So she was armed with a
lot of reinforcements that
she knew was going to help the dog to make good choices. So think about how to set your puppy
up for success and then make sure that you're ready to change
things. Should you need to, so of going to the park at
the busiest times a day, when like there's kids running around
and there's dogs running around yeah.

Might not be the best time to be
going to do your training sessions, maybe pick a quieter time, maybe
go a little bit further away, bring your high value food so that you
can start to build on success rather than allowing the puppy to learn from
the beginning to make poor choices. So basically you need to anticipate the
problems and that be ready to attack them. Now, it's really important for you to know
is that everybody goes through these adolescent phases with her puppy
four months, seven months, you know, makes a professional dog trainer. She's made some fantastic
choices with her dog, but she still went through little periods
of time where she had to evaluate the situation and make some
different choices for your puppy. And you're going to need
to do exactly the same. Now we talked a little
bit about four months, but we're also going to talk about
kind of the more challenging one.

And that's when puppies hit around
seven months or that threshold where the puppy started to be less baby puppy and
more into, you know, getting towards, to be an adult dog. And the tougher part
about this is that you may have had, you know, a string of months where
things have gone really successfully. And now at the puppies are going
to do is deliberately test you, even though they might know
how to make better choices, they might start to test the
limits a little bit more. So we're going to talk a little bit about
what that period looks like and what you can do to get through it successfully.
She is coming up to a year old.

So she has been in and
out and may go in again, a bit of a teenage phase. So what, some of the things that you noticed the
most about her when she got into that sort of that adolescent testy phase yeah. For her, is that she's exceptionally
friendly if you notice that. And that's actually with people and dogs, and that's one of the things
I love the most about her, but I know that that's going to become
one of my train challenges as well.

She has probably started hiking with
my boys probably around the time she was seven or eight months.
Because up until that point, everything was pretty much
done with her on her own. And it started out fabulously. She
was great, everything was wonderful. She was listening. I did have a long
line on her for the first little bit. And then it seemed as though every
time I called her response to name, come command, she was turning
on a dime every single time. And I got a little overconfident
and I took the line off completely.

And all of a sudden she hit this
phase. And next thing you know, I would call her and in the middle
of the trail, I'll never forget this. She literally looked at me, looked back, saw the boys running
and gave me a peace out. Mom ran down the trail
and she blew me off. And it was probably the first time ever
this prep has had the opportunity to be wrong. She'd been right. So many times I actually thought that she
didn't know that ignoring her name was an option, but apparently she did. And she did that one other time
with a squirrel in the backyard. And at that point I could have let that
go on and on and on for weeks and weeks and weeks. And then it probably would
have become a big problem.

Instead, the line went back on and I actually
trained her for a little bit with just my old dog. That's a little bit less
exciting. He doesn't move as fast. He doesn't act as silly. And when I saw that she was able to
respond beautifully around Swift at 13, then I started including a
different dog. And then finally, now she's reintegrated back in the pack.
The three of them can hike together. No problem. And her responses are right
back to, to dynamite here, Lou. Yeah. One of the things that makes said that
seems very normal to us as dog trainers, but is actually quite unique is she
didn't actually have her dog hiking and running and playing and walking with
her older dogs until the dog was like eight months old.

So that's that's seven months
or five months really of just continuous stuff
between the puppy and Meg, which is why initially when she
started to integrate the dogs together, the puppy was making great choices
because that's kind of all she ever knew. And then sometimes what happens is
it smooth sailing for a little bit? And then the puppy starts to go, wait
a second. There's other dogs here, wait a second. There's squirrels. And
then they start to make poor choices. And this is what, like what makes sense.
This is where a lot of people go wrong. They let those poor choices
happen over and over again. And now all that like great stuff that
happened for a while while now it's gone because we've allowed the dog to
seek reinforcement in other areas.

So there's a good lesson here and
that is once you see a glimmer of a problem, we need to dial it
back, get the long line back on, get back to some of our trainings so
that things don't end up getting worse. So we talked about the recall and some
outdoor control and how you sort of work through that. But what about things like
in terms of like being in the house, you have a young kid, probably lots going
on in the house with adolescent dog. What are some of the things that
you struggled with? And of course, how did you work through those things
to make sure that she was making good choices? Yeah. It's the biggest thing that I noticed
was that she was first in a crate a lot more when she was younger.

pexels photo 5745215

And then I generally start giving my dogs
more and more time loose in the house. However, I still have expectations
that they don't get to run wild. That's just not something you get to do. And one of the things I found was that
when my son was running around playing, she could handle it if it was situations
that were a little less exciting. So for example, she worked a lot
at lying on a dog bed, for example, while he and I were working on some
puzzles maybe he was doing some art at the table. Maybe we were just
sitting there reading a book, things that were a
little bit less exciting.

If he was bombing around my house with
a Cape on and yelling at the top of his lungs, being a typical three-year-old boy, which does happen at my house
then I found in those situations, she did struggle to make the right choice
to either remain on a bed or remain calm and not choose to chase
after him and join in all the fun. So it makes example of the kids and dogs
as certainly something I'm sure a lot of you can relate to, but maybe
your teenage phases, you know, resulting in other behaviors that are not
going so well at home.

Like, you know, maybe having accidents in the house
again or chewing your things, your shoes, you name it. Actually you have a story about your
brother's dog that just recently came up. Yeah, absolutely. He was complaining to me that the day
he's been off due to COVID and working from home for the longest time for months. And he started to give his Husky more
and more freedom around the house, mainly because he was there a lot of the
time and he was able to watch him all of a sudden now he's going back to work
and that dog who had a lot more freedom and he thought he was able to handle
that freedom has since proved that he can't.

And he came home one day from
work and the dog had actually chewed the baseboards while he was at work. I think he was chewing some of the shoes
in the front hall closet of that we're actually in the front hallway, maybe
not put in the closet, but anyway, they did discover then that this Husky
had to get put back in the crate again. And he hasn't been in a crate in months, but unfortunately for his safety
and for the safety of their home, they've had to re-establish some new
rules and some new routines. Again. I think it's also important
to remember that you know, sometimes people think like, Oh gosh, I had to put my dog back in the crate
and I'm like backtracking in my training, but that's not really what
you have to think about. I think that there's going
to be lots of phases in, in your dog's life where you're going
to give them a little bit of freedom things you're going to go well, and then they're going to make a mistake
and then you're going to need to take that freedom away and then
offer it again in a little bit.

And you might end up doing some back and
forth and back forth until, you know, you can't really remember the last time
they picked up shoes when they're not supposed to, or you can't remember the last time
they had an accident and the house that tells you that they're ready for some
of that freedom. But I think far too, people are too eager to give their
young dogs freedom and opportunity.

And then you end up getting more
mistakes rather than having them earn the freedom in the first place or are they. Give too much too fast. So we hear often about students
that for the first time ever, they left their dog and they left
them for an eight hour period of time. Instead of typically what we would do is,
okay, I'm going to try leaving my dog. They haven't ever chewed anything. They haven't had an accident
in the house in a long time. Why don't I leave them loose
while I go have a shower? Why don't I leave them loose while I
go down the street to go get the mail, we do shorter increments of time. And we build up to that
instead of throwing them a
huge chunk of time where they can get really creative with what
they do while being like, well, I hope they're okay.

Yeah. I hope. I have a coach when I get home.
Yeah, absolutely. Definitely. Being able to make better
choices like that is important. And then being able to take away the
freedom, which is not a fun thing to do, but just like kids, you, you sometimes have to dial things
back and offer it once again, once you feel that they're
making better choices. So another common one that we hear often
from our online students is about a dog. That's been given a little
bit more freedom in the house. Things like going up on couches, going
up on beds sometimes without permission, or sometimes then once they're up there, it's the owners have a difficult
time giving them off again. And aren't really sure how to deal with
that because it's the first time the dog thinks that they get to call the shots
on on some of these sort of gifts around the house.

And I think sometimes adolescents,
they are more naturally curious, maybe they're taller and they can see
what's up there now a little bit more. But I think it's also common
for them to be like, Oh, well, I wasn't really allowed to do
this when I was four months. But how about when I'm seven months?
Like, do the rules still apply? So working through those things is
really important for issues like that. Specifically jumping on the bed, jumping
on the couch, maybe counter surfing, jumping up to see what's on the counter. One of the things that we really recommend
that people do is go back to having a leash or a line on the dog in the house
because those particular behaviors among others are very self rewarding behaviors, which means if you're not there to catch
them in the act of doing it they will repeat it over and over and over again, especially if they get to get up and
have like a nice snuggly nap on the couch or they could to get up and steal a loaf
of bread and down it while you're not paying attention.

So having a
leash on is going to be really, really important with that obviously
is going to come supervision in a busy household. I know when
we have lots of stuff going on, there's like certain things that we use
in the house to like make supervision easier. What are some of the things that you
do in your house to like make your life easier? So you don't have to
watch the dog all of the time.

Sure. my son's room is
a hot topic right now. It's it generally a bit of like
a bomb went off in his playroom. So often the playroom and his bedroom. I closed those doors sometimes, cause
I don't want to see what's there, but also because there is a lot more
temptations there than any other room. And I find that if I'm downstairs, I want to know that there's no chance
she's getting up on his bed to see what a stuffed animals tastes like. I don't
think she would do any of those things, but I don't want to give her
the opportunity to find out.

So I restrict access to a
whole floor of my house. I basically close all the
bedroom doors, so sure. She might run up the stairs
and see what's up there. She's going to find an empty hallway
and she'll generally zip right back down when she was a baby puppy, I just put a
baby gate at the bottom of the stairs. I didn't even let her go up
and down the stairs at all. Yeah, we do somewhere.

We
use a lot of baby Gates. We have a crate in a really central area
in our house so that if the puppy is being crater, the young dog is being created and
there's stuff going on in the home. They don't feel like they're being
banished to the bedroom or banished to the basement. They're still, you know, with
the family and seeing things going on. But they're in a controlled environment. Baby gets your super-helpful
lines are super helpful and leash. So if they happen to grab something, the worst thing you can do
is like chase after the dog. And the dog starts to learn like a
big catch me, if you can type of game, which means you better believe
they're going to do it again.

So being able to stop those things
quickly and efficiently without getting angry, without raising your voice without
chasing the dog are all going to be waste, to show leadership in a little bit
more of a common assertive way. And then of course you can
redirect the dog to better choices, but the goal is to adapt your house
and adapt your structure so that they're not getting into trouble. And
then you're saying, no, don't do that. And then they try this
and you're saying, no, don't do that your day should not be
made up with a bunch of no, no, no's, it should be more like,
wow, what a great choice.

Look you offered to go lay on
your bed or your sitting calmly. You said something great earlier about
training the dog around like the couches and the beds and like, rather than
waiting for them to make a mistake, like what would you do differently? Yeah, absolutely. And actually I was just helping one of
our online students with this the other day the puppy was jumping on
the couch every time they got an opportunity to go through the living room. And what we were actually working through
was having the line on. And at first, literally just walking past the couch
and every time the puppy looked at the couch and chose not to jump
up with her on their own, we praise them and rewarded them. And then next we redirected them
to a more appropriate place. So we then redirected the puppy with
that line, just dragging on the ground, over to the dog bed at which point a Kong
was given or the next time a bone was given. And I actually said, keep a little, a little Tupperware or
something close by to that bed.

So every time your puppy chooses
to make that choice there, then they're reinforced for it. Yeah. Basically you're
taking the reinforcement, which originally was naturally
from the dog's perspective, jumping up on the couch. And we're basically saying
that's actually not rewarding. Going along on the bed is rewarding.
That's where all the reinforcement, our dogs in general always do
things that they find rewarding. And so if you're not there
to like stop some of those, not fun things for us things
like jumping on the couch. If you're not there to stop things, your dog will just naturally
find them rewarding. So the training that we do
needs to shift the narrative, it needs to teach your dogs, that making other choices that they
might not think of themselves well, by reinforcing them a lot for them, the dogs will tend to gravitate
to making those better choices, which means going back
to what I said before, you're spending more
time saying wild puppy, what a great choice and less time for
ripping your hair out and being frustrated with your teenage bratty dog.

Good leadership can help speed
you through this adolescent phase. If you want to learn more about how
to be a great leader for your puppy, check out that card right there. If you have an adolescent dog at home and
you want a little bit more guidance on what to do, you can actually work with Meg and
I online in our life skills program. The link is in the description below.
And on that note, I'm Kayl, I'm Meg. This is Highlight Happy Training..

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