Terrible teens are a-brewing! How can we survive it??
Amber will be 6 months old on May 1st. We got her at 8 weeks. She was a tricky puppy but we got through that with puppy classes and lots of at-home training sessions. At about the 15-week mark, something clicked. She got potty-training down to a T, recall was great, biting was at a minimum, and she was generally becoming a polite, sweet and well-behaved girl.
Fast forward to about 2 weeks ago and this started to change. She's discovered her bark and uses it at every opportunity. She barks at other dogs when on the lead or off. She's polite when they come close but other owners tend not to let her get close enough for that. She barks at birds, cats and people outside the window. She barks if I stand up off the sofa too quickly. She barks at figments of her own imagination. Her recall is poor - sometimes it works but not as much as I would like.
Worst of all, she barks and attempts to chase passing cars. Where we live, we don't have pavements so I have to walk her on the road. It's pretty quiet so at certain times of day we might not see a car at all. Right from the beginning I trained her that when a car comes and I direct her onto the grass verge, she should sit and look at me for further instructions, and if she stays still and quiet while the car passes she gets a treat. Throughout I trained her to do this as a car was approaching and sometimes also when there is no car, so she understands that she should do it whenever I tell her regardless of what us going on around her. It's my job to tell her when to do it, it's her job to do it. She got it pretty quickly! But now, she'll come to the verge but then she will ignore me completely, she will focus on the approaching car and when the car comes near she will attempt to chase it and bark. I have to hold her harness to prevent her coming to harm. She's pushing 22kg now so that's not always easy! I feel like telling her "NO!" when she does this will not reinforce that it is wrong, she may think I am just joining in. She doesn't do it correctly enough for me to reinforce the good behaviour.
There's a ton of other mischievous things she does that I won't go into here or we'll be here all day. She is really picky with her food and sometimes goes a day on an empty stomach besides treats for good behaviour because she has ignored her breakfast, which makes her behaviour worse. The car-chasing behaviour is the one I am most desperate to fix quickly as it puts her in danger and she did do it so well before.
I am going to try getting her into an obedience class soon. Other than being patient, consistent and exercising her properly, is there anything else I can try to make sure these behaviours don't get entrenched into adulthood? I can ride it out IF it will go away on its own, but that's a big IF!