Do you believe in the "Teenage Phase"? - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 37 (permalink) Old 02-14-2012, 01:46 AM Thread Starter
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Do you believe in the "Teenage Phase"?

Rocket turns 8 months on Wednesday!

I was gone to Seattle the last couple of days, but last week and for part of today, he acted like he'd forgotten every thing he's ever learned. Sigh. I knew this might happen, I'd read on here, I was prepared, or so I thought.....

While I was searching this forum and reading threads about this "teenage phase", there were some replies stating that there is no teen phase. That it is just a lack of training. I sincerely hope this is not the case, because most of my day is planned around the dog. Probably more than my 3 children. We train for a bit in the am and have an exercise session (these vary by day...maybe a walk, maybe a ball/flirt pole, maybe go to the park, maybe a run)--often I will just train and then get ready for a hike (at least 2 hours if not more). Then it's settle time (a good nap) then more exercise and more training. Night brings a small training session and usually a raw bone.

In between these, I use every chance I get for interaction. We also have "cat training". (That's a whole other thread) We go in the car usually at least once a day, most days a week we go to a store too. He has been in obedience since his second round of shots, with only a slight break (Dec) and right now he's in two classes a week. He eats almost one full meal a day out of my hand while he's "working for it".

How can his behavior be a result of my "lack of training", or him "evolving beyond my training" -----both quotes I found in old "teenage" threads on this forum? (Interestingly enough, I found several links from my training facility, Diamonds in the Ruff, referenced in this old thread: https://www.germanshepherds.com/forum...vice-tips.html ), so their thinking is it is a real phase.

Sometimes I do feel like I'm not the world's greatest trainer. I admit I think I thought I was better before I got this pup! Maybe I'm moving too fast, in the quest to "proof in different situations". Mostly it's when we're in situations with high distraction, outside of home (after the initial "CLASS! WE'RE IN CLASS!!!!!" reaction, he does focus ok in class, at least the one. He just started the second simultaneous one and DH took him to his first session). He acts like he has me on mute. GRRRR. Today I got very frustrated when his new harness we're trying out got tangled and I had to let go for a split second, which unfortunately had to be the precise second one of the cats decided to streak out of the garage, only to be followed through the mud I might add, by my pup--who joyously chased him at full speed under the front porch. I shamefully admit to grabbing him with both hands by his harness and manhandling him over to the gravel path, all the while yelling "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!" only to have him trip on the dragging leash part and do a slight crash onto his side. I had to take him inside and give both of us a brief timeout. Honestly, I had had the crappiest morning and I sat down on the floor and started to cry, which is totally unlike me; and to make matters worse, he came over and licked my face. I felt like Baroness Machiavelli. There is quite a bit of other stress in my life right now, maybe it's affecting my training/household atmosphere for him.

Anyone else feel this way? To be fair to Rocket, he isn't like that every day. Some days he acts like this perfect dream puppy. We just haven't had one for a week, it seems.

Last edited by RocketDog; 02-14-2012 at 01:48 AM.
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post #2 of 37 (permalink) Old 02-14-2012, 06:59 AM
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Originally Posted by RocketDog View Post
Rocket turns 8 months on Wednesday!

I was gone to Seattle the last couple of days, but last week and for part of today, he acted like he'd forgotten every thing he's ever learned. Sigh. I knew this might happen, I'd read on here, I was prepared, or so I thought.....

While I was searching this forum and reading threads about this "teenage phase", there were some replies stating that there is no teen phase. That it is just a lack of training. I sincerely hope this is not the case, because most of my day is planned around the dog. Probably more than my 3 children. We train for a bit in the am and have an exercise session (these vary by day...maybe a walk, maybe a ball/flirt pole, maybe go to the park, maybe a run)--often I will just train and then get ready for a hike (at least 2 hours if not more). Then it's settle time (a good nap) then more exercise and more training. Night brings a small training session and usually a raw bone.

In between these, I use every chance I get for interaction. We also have "cat training". (That's a whole other thread) We go in the car usually at least once a day, most days a week we go to a store too. He has been in obedience since his second round of shots, with only a slight break (Dec) and right now he's in two classes a week. He eats almost one full meal a day out of my hand while he's "working for it".

How can his behavior be a result of my "lack of training", or him "evolving beyond my training" -----both quotes I found in old "teenage" threads on this forum? (Interestingly enough, I found several links from my training facility, Diamonds in the Ruff, referenced in this old thread: https://www.germanshepherds.com/forum...vice-tips.html ), so their thinking is it is a real phase.

Sometimes I do feel like I'm not the world's greatest trainer. I admit I think I thought I was better before I got this pup! Maybe I'm moving too fast, in the quest to "proof in different situations". Mostly it's when we're in situations with high distraction, outside of home (after the initial "CLASS! WE'RE IN CLASS!!!!!" reaction, he does focus ok in class, at least the one. He just started the second simultaneous one and DH took him to his first session). He acts like he has me on mute. GRRRR. Today I got very frustrated when his new harness we're trying out got tangled and I had to let go for a split second, which unfortunately had to be the precise second one of the cats decided to streak out of the garage, only to be followed through the mud I might add, by my pup--who joyously chased him at full speed under the front porch. I shamefully admit to grabbing him with both hands by his harness and manhandling him over to the gravel path, all the while yelling "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!" only to have him trip on the dragging leash part and do a slight crash onto his side. I had to take him inside and give both of us a brief timeout. Honestly, I had had the crappiest morning and I sat down on the floor and started to cry, which is totally unlike me; and to make matters worse, he came over and licked my face. I felt like Baroness Machiavelli. There is quite a bit of other stress in my life right now, maybe it's affecting my training/household atmosphere for him.

Anyone else feel this way? To be fair to Rocket, he isn't like that every day. Some days he acts like this perfect dream puppy. We just haven't had one for a week, it seems.
Hi there.

We both know I'm not a trainer, so I won't offer advice from a trainer's perspective.

HOWEVER, I am laughing my *ss off at the visual you created for me.. Thank you. LOL.


I'm going to take a stab at a few things.

1) The harness. Does this behavior coincide with wearing the harness? Rocket may feel free as a bird, when he's wearing it. Were you using a prong collar prior?

2) Over heightened level of anxiety? I started a thread about the excited state I would come home to every day. When I'm with Kira one on one, she's so calm, stable, and fully under my control. However, I noticed that I would come home to a different dog. When I put 2 and 2 together, it was related to the fact that Kira was free all day, and running her day as she pleases. Every minute of her day, revolved around her.
I guess I'm trying to say that MAYBE you're spending too much time interacting with her, and you''re becoming an "old shoe". She might be getting bored with your routine.
I went through this a short while ago. I felt that Kira put me on the "I hear you, but ignoring you" list.
I spent 2 days with absolutely no look, no talk, no touch to Kira, other than walks. THEN when I wanted her attention, she appreciated it.

3) Maybe YOU need a break. We discussed "Stress" in another thread, and MAYBE you're the one that's out of control at the moment, and in need of a break. Your current mindset may not be in the right place to handle Rocket's energy level.

I would suggest, taking a couple days off from Rocket. I did this. I passed her leash to my wife, and told her it's her turn to walk her, feed her, pick up her poop, and do a daily routine of tricks and obedience practice.

Hand the leash to your husband, and put Rocket in a calmer state. Break his "be with me at every moment" routine, and go do something for yourself.

Hang in there.
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post #3 of 37 (permalink) Old 02-14-2012, 07:15 AM
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Training .vs. teenage? I think it is both. I think puppies do go through a teenage period at about the same time we have probably backed off on the training. So more training is needed during the teenage phase if you are hoping to have a 'well-trained' dog. As for me, I allowed my dog to be a teenager and backed off on the training and she came through just fine. She's a very happy, obedient adult. We all want different things for our dogs and each dog is unique.
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post #4 of 37 (permalink) Old 02-14-2012, 08:14 AM
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Training .vs. teenage? I think it is both. I think puppies do go through a teenage period at about the same time we have probably backed off on the training. So more training is needed during the teenage phase if you are hoping to have a 'well-trained' dog. As for me, I allowed my dog to be a teenager and backed off on the training and she came through just fine. She's a very happy, obedient adult. We all want different things for our dogs and each dog is unique.
I did the same as Paddy with Karlo during that age.
He wasn't really a butthead(I don't like that term), but was checked out when we trained from about 8 to 11 months. I just worked on our bond, didn't put pressure on him. He was never reactive or naughty, just not in the zone when we trained.
Onyx on the other hand was severely reactive and fear aggressive. So I had to step up in my role as her handler and show her I was the one that took care of things so she didn't feel the need to be 'on' all the time.
It was a work in progress until she matured around 3.

As Paddy posted, each dog is unique!!
Sorry you had such a bad day, maybe Rocket will redeem himself today!

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post #5 of 37 (permalink) Old 02-14-2012, 09:24 AM
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Yep, there is definitely a teen phase. I've seen it in every dog I've worked with; some just a little, like testing boundaries they haven't pushed before, and others deciding that "nope, I don't have to listen to you and I've never learned that command in my life". It is the most frustrating phase ever, I swear. It is no coincidence that the vast majority of dogs in shelters/rescues are between 6 months and 2 years of age. Just continue to be consistent and have a drink, kidding, but its tough! Keep up with training but do it more so to enhance the bond, and eventually you'll come out the other side with a loyal, well behaved friend.

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post #6 of 37 (permalink) Old 02-14-2012, 09:58 AM
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I don't actually believe in a teen phase,(though I am aware that dogs change as they grow older), but I will say that moving too fast and not enough foundation, is the problem 95% of the time when people hit hiccups in training.
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post #7 of 37 (permalink) Old 02-14-2012, 10:06 AM
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Because I was "oooing & ahhing" over how fast he learned things I moved to fast (kind of like Cliff mentioned) to learn something new. The result for me was kind of a sloppy foundation. Had to put the breaks on and go back & refine alot of things. I am luckly he is so forgiving of my set backs as a handler & goes along with me!

We are in a much better place now, he will be 2 in March.
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post #8 of 37 (permalink) Old 02-14-2012, 10:40 AM
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I'm certainly no expert but it seems logical that as their instincts mature and hormones start kicking in their behavior will change and that does seem to coincide with the time period we get comfortable- typically when puppy and basic obedience classes are over. I had to step up and change the way I was training and exercising Stosh. So yeah, I do think there's a teenage phase in the dog and maybe the 'honeymoon' phase is over with the owner
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post #9 of 37 (permalink) Old 02-14-2012, 10:51 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks, all.

Anthony, he's fine on the harness, actually the trainer gave it to my husband on Saturday to try out since he wants to pull badly towards other dogs when we're in class. He loves other dogs, and thinks everyone should meet him. In fact, it's useless really for anything other than places where he will meet dogs very close, because he loose leash walks perfectly. Still, I guess as a training tool it might accomplish what I want, but it is a bit cumbersome.

I was frustrated because of his fixation with the cats, still. Granted, they don't live inside, so it's taking much longer and we haven't spent the kind of time we really should have, but it's so irritating when something like that happens because I know each time it does, it makes it just that much harder to eradicate. I have not used a prong on him. We tried one on last time in his OTHER class, and it definitely stopped the pulling towards the other dogs, so I'm considering it, but I really hoped I could do all his training on a flat buckle collar. Also, he doesn't pull at all when walking, etc, ONLY if he sees another dog CLOSE to him. He ignores dogs behind fences. I'm kind of tempted to get one, but for some dumb reason I just feel like I should be able to teach him without it (this is NOT a judgement on prongs. I think they're fine. I saw how he did NOT pull towards dogs with it on).

I do try to be gone from him and I DID just get back from being out of town for 3 days, so hopefully that will help. It's not that he's out of control or anything, it's just that suddenly he kind of acts like "hmmm. I don't know if I want to obey that come...or that down...or that sit.....". Like I said, especially if we're above threshold.

I think the foundation basics may need to be strengthened--like Cliff and Courtney said, they learn so fast, that it's easy to move too fast.

Although I really still am basically working on all that stuff, maybe I'm just moving his threshold too far too fast. And then there's the fact that maybe today my dream pup will reappear. He does, every few days.

Last edited by RocketDog; 02-14-2012 at 10:57 AM.
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post #10 of 37 (permalink) Old 02-14-2012, 10:54 AM Thread Starter
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Also, if it IS anything like teenage hormones, even though my kids are good kids, and haven't ever gotten into real trouble or anything, and are highly thought of at their schools (my oldest is a sophmore and last year and this year I have gotten emails from her teachers saying she was an extremely mature and respectful student there), they have phases. Oldest DD was a PILL at 14-15.

GAWD.
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