The Trouble with Teenagers
There seems to be one universal truth in canine-human interaction -- "the more important it is for the human to be somewhere on time, the more likely it is for the dog to stubbornly refuse to come when it is called." And, the more serious and frustrated the human gets, the more likely it is for the dog to play the, "catch me if you can" game.
Last week everything was ready for a very important meeting. The car was running, I had my notes and the only task left to do was to put Katie, my four month old german shepherd puppy, in her kennel. I hurried to the back door and did what I usually do, yelled, "Katie come."" She looked at me for a moment, made a move for the door, and at the last second bolted playfully just out of my grasp. Trying to remain calm on the surface, I rushed to the fridge and grabbed a piece of steak and yelled, "Katie come!"
I have to admit she did seem mildly interested, but again at the last moment, Katie turned and grabbed a toy and raced around the yard. Suddenly, it became very clear to me, if I didn't fix this response I would be late for many more meetings.
Puppies under four months of age cautiously explore the strange and exciting new world which they find themselves in. They feel secure as they walk with their human owners. They take a few short side adventures but return quickly to their human leader. Puppies love the cuddles, the play, the food and most of all the security which we humans provide. Everything changes when they become teenagers!
Teenage puppies are no longer satisfied with simply exploring their environment; they want to manipulate their world. They dig holes under bushes just to see what's there. They jump fences because things on the other side look more exciting. They challenge the older house dogs to see what they can get away with. And, they test the resolve and patience of their human owners by not coming when they are called.
Owners need to respond by expanding their teenage puppy's activities. Take more frequent walks. Play fetch and reward the puppy's retrieval with food or praise. Play together with Frisbees or tug toys. Practice exciting and rewarding activities like learning to sit and down for food or play. Teenage puppies will become so excited about playing and exploring with their human owners, they will become more obedient.
For the past week I have been calling Katie to the back door at least ten times each day. Sometimes when she arrives we play tug, or I throw the ball for her to retrieve. Other times I ask her to sit and give her a food treat and then let her return to the yard to explore. About every tenth time I put her in her kennel with a biscuit and tell her what a wonderful teenage puppy she is!Noel Pepin -- Noel Pepin Canine Behaviour Specialists Noel Pepin -- Noel Pepin Canine Behaviour Specialists