4 Tips for Surviving Your Dog's Terrible Twos
It seems like just yesterday you had a little puppy who was so eager to please. But now you have a sassy dog who won't take "no" for an answer. If this sounds familiar to you, your dog (and you) may be experiencing the terrible twos. This period usually occurs when your pup is between six and 18 months old, and it marks the time when he is growing out of puppyhood and beginning to form his adult personality. Here are some tips to help your toddler dog transition happily into a grown-up.
Say it again, Sam
Sometimes when you're frustrated and trying to give your dog a command, it's tempting to blurt out the first thing that comes to mind. Instead of swapping "come" for "get over here!" stick to your established formal commands so your dog learns to associate them with your desired behavior.
Hit the snack-pot
Puppies are so eager for your approval, sometimes all it takes is a smile and a pat on the head to encourage good behavior. In the “terrible two” years, make sure to reward positive behavior with more tangible things such as treats, affection and praise. This will remind your dog of the high value you place on obedience.
Enter a no-growl zone
Just like a cranky toddler may not share his snacks, your young dog may become possessive. If you find that he growls when you try to take away a toy or touch his food, immediately remove the item. Once you get a toy from him, say "no" and take the toy out of reach for good. With food, work on establishing a command that gives your dog permission to eat. Make your dog wait until you give that permission before he can dig in.
Show 'em who's boss
Dogs act up at this age because they're testing your boundaries to see what they can get away with. Standing by your commands with conviction is a good way to show your dog that you mean business. Teach your dog to defer to you by walking through doors first and having him follow after you. Disciplined behavior like this, when coupled with affection and positive rewards, will show that you're the boss—a nice boss, but a boss nonetheless.
The saddest thing about the terrible twos is that this is the most common age group of dogs left at shelters because some pet parents simply can't cope. Be patient and strong with your dog as you work through this time together—because the lifelong friendship is worth the growing pains. Do you have any training tips for the terrible twos? Share them in the comments section below.
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