I have a four-legged teenager at home.

Zeke has decided to revisit all of the training I’ve been doing with him for the last four months. I do have to watch I don’t laugh at times (as that would encourage him), but he clearly thinks I’m making suggestions and he can decide if responding is worth his while. That includes charging round the garden with a branch he’s yanked off the hedge, or grass he’s ripped out of the lawn, or some plastic from the recycling box.

My response is as before, ignore the undesirable behaviour and reward the good. Rather than joining in with a chase, I often walk away from him and come into the house. It’s obvious he’s looking for attention as he spits out whatever is in his mouth and runs towards the patio doors. If he doesn’t, I watch him from the kitchen window, but he hasn’t cottoned onto that yet.

I would never punish him, ever. For Zeke it’s play. If I applied any kind of punitive response it would damage our relationship, and all the trust we’ve developed since he arrived. It would also make his response to recall so much less likely going forward. Once he’s a little calmer I set up a search game, or fill his paddling pool, to try and give him chance to burn some energy in a productive way.

As we go through this teenage phase, I’ve gone back to basics with Zeke’s training. I create scenarios for him to provide the right behaviour, rewarding him with his highly valued raw sprats in the house and garden. I’ve been experimenting with other treats that are easier to handle, but so far nothing beats a stinky sprat!

I know this is all part of him maturing and growing up. He doesn’t need me as much for security. He’s more willing to venture off into the garden and do his own thing. Although, he occasionally comes running. After that loud motorbike startled him a month or so ago, he still isn’t keen on loud cars or motorbikes (but then, who is?). So I’m carefully building noise exposure again, as we did in his 8-15 weeks training.

This behaviour is normal and it will pass. I will look back and reminisce over photos how cute he was as a puppy, and totally forget how much hard work having a puppy is.

Until next time




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