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1 - Remember they're an adolescent.

It might sound obvious, but too often people forget that being an adolescent can be a challenge. We tend to forgot how much of an idiot we were when we were going through an annoying adolescent stage. I literally used to knock on people's doors and run away before they could answer it. My adolescent brain thought that was the funniest thing. Give them a break and expect things to be a little hit and miss for this period.

Try to prevent the naughty stuff as much as you can. It's a phase but you don't want them enjoying the naughty stuff so much that they grow into the behaviour instead of out of it.

2 - Give them time to think.

Don't repeatedly say the thing you want them to do when they are ignoring you. If you have to say 'sit, sit, sit, sit, sit, sit, sit' to get them to sit, I'd argue they don't really understand what you're asking and just guessing. If someone repeatedly asked you what 12 x 46 + 84 -15 was, the repetition wouldn't make the answer come to you any quicker. If anything, it'd make you panic and the question would become even harder.

Ask them once and count to 10 - If they don't respond they either don't understand or it's too challenging for them to do the behaviour in the current situation.

Ask them to do something else or remove them. Then practice what you want them to do more in quieter places and gradually ask them in different places.

3 - Take some time off.

If you start to dislike your dog, you're not alone. Some dogs go through REALLY irritating phases during adolescence. If you're trying to work with them but feeling more and more frustrated, just take a break for a few days, weeks or whatever you need.

You can't train effectively if you're feeling frustrated or resentment towards the dog. We're humans, we can't help how we feel but we can help how we respond. Breaks are good for both you and the dog.

4 - Don't just let them play play play play with other dogs.

I've met too many dogs that simply just can't cope when they see another dog. All they can think of is play... Because that's all they have ever done with other dogs. Teaching dogs, especially adolescent dogs, to ignore or at least tolerate not being able to go and say hello is VERY important and should be taught to all dogs.

If you're not sure how to teach that, follow this video:

5 - Do lots of relaxed and fun training at home.

Take the pressure off when you're training and do a lot at home where there isn't anything fun happening. School was a terrible place for me to learn. It was too busy and I couldn't focus on anything at all. I got 'taught' a lot but very little was actually going in. I was too distracted. The best way that I have found for me to learn and process things is by reading in a quiet room and at my own pace with no pressure.

With adolescent dogs we should focus on what they do that is good and try not to worry too much about the bad. 'Capturing' their 'good' behaviour is a great way to start as there is no pressure and no conflict and you won't be batting heads!

Here's a link to learn how to implement this:

6 - Use a lot of management.

Imagine having a toddler and not supervising them around the house or out and about. That's a really, really bad idea. They'll likely get hurt or get into trouble somehow. The same should be applied for our dogs, especially during their adolescence. Don't just let them off lead and hope for the best. Supervise or manage them. Keep them on a long lead and train, train, train. When we talk about training, try to think of it like educating. What do you want the dog to be able to do? Come back when called? Great, so don't just let them run off and NOT come back. Educate them.

7 - If they're not complying ask for less.

If something is too hard for the learner, we can't just wait for them to get it. We need to help them. The only way we can do that is by making it easier and then gradually making it harder and harder. That's how learning works. We aren't just given complex equations to solve without learning the foundations. Really good dog training is just the basic stuff practiced over and over again.

The more you practice the basic stuff, the more likely they'll be able to comply in the more challenging situations.

8 - Play a lot with them.

No, tug doesn't make them anymore or any less aggressive. And Yes you should let them 'win'. Play can be one of the most powerful reinforcers for dogs, especially young dogs that don't want to sit still for a boring treat. Learning how to play with them is the key. We need to figure out how they like to play and then mould the way we play to make it the most fun. If a kid loves rugby, you wouldn't give them a ball and tell them to play football. You'd teach them how to play rugby!

This video will help you out here:

9 - Your ego is your biggest obstacle.

Having a super obedient dog is usually what a lot of novice owners not only want but expect. It takes a lot of work and a lot of consistency to get this. It also takes a lot of failures along the way. Don't worry about how they make you look or feel and focus more on helping them through their challenges.

We have to remember they are not a trophy at the end of the lead to make us look good or bad. They are sentient and during adolescence they are at the most challenging time of their life.

10 - Get help from a professional and don't expect it to be a one and done session.

You need support over a period of time. We're here to help and guide you. There will be so many new behaviours that crop up that will likely include some concerning behaviours. Trainers are there to help you through them. It's not a failure to ask for help, it's a what everyone should do to achieve their goals.


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