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Canine University 71 Clinton St. Malden, MA

On Puppies

Coping With Canine Adolescence

Our eight month old German Shepherd Dog is a typical adolescent dog. Most of his time is spent figuring out ways to entertain himself! He has none of the grace and dignity of our grown up, well-mannered goldens, but he has lots of potential.

Doggie teenagers are much like human teenagers: they're dorky, sassy, mischievous and energetic, all rolled into one. That's a lot of dog for one household, and you have my sympathies if you're currently coping with a doggie teenager. On the brighter side, teenage dogs can surprise you and, really, though we like to complain about his mischievous nature, Stryker really is a very good boy for a dog his age. Recenty, in preparation for our "Take it to the Streets Class" a few friends and I took our dogs on the Orange Line train into Boston for a training session. We basically wanted to stake out some cool places to bring our class and see what our dogs could do. I told my friends that if Stryker did something really embarassing, like bark at some elderly lady or jump on a kid they were welcome to bail out and pretend they didn't know me. I, of course made, sure I wore dark sunglasses and nothing that said Canine University on it! I worried in vain however, because my teenage dog was a model citizen. He amazed me at how calmly he accepted the sounds and sights of lots of people, the train, its weird lights, bumps, sounds, downtown Boston hustle bustle, Fanueil Hall and all those pigeons, the Boston Common with all those dogs he's never met and the umpteen children, baby strollers, joggers, rollerbladers, bicycles and tourists he saw. Maybe we just overwhelmed him, but he acted more like my Sam (dignified wonder dog) than like the adolescent dog from hell who tears around my house after kittens and dust bunnies.

So, if you're coping with a teenage dog, and are looking for sympathy you definitely have a friend in me. But if you really want to get serious about getting your dog back on track you've got to set some goals and stick to them. Make sure, first of all, that your pup is getting enough exercise for his body, and get him back in class so we can exercise his mind. It won't be long before your problem dog is replaced by a more dignified well-trained grown-up dog that you could never imagine being without. The funny thing is a few years from now if you put in your time to train, you'll never remember all the awful things your dog did at this age and you'll miss having the puppy that once almost drove you to drink. Doggie adolescence is a tough time in a dog's development, but I wouldn't miss it for the world.

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