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The adolescent dog

Blaze is 10 months old. He is a strong, big (80+ lbs), gorgeous yellow lab puppy. His size would make you think he is full grown. In reality he wont mature until he is closer to 3. He has started showing some confidence and barking at things he wouldn’t normally bark at. I attribute that to testosterone spiking. I dont know if its true but its my theory.

The question of the day is how to handle a large strong adolescent dog. I can’t speak to small dogs as I haven’t owned one of those but I imagine the same principles apply.

1) Exercise. This is a must for any dog, but especially at this age. I think a puppy at 10 months old needs sustained exercise in a safe way. Their bones aren’t done developing so you have to be careful about running. We do a lot of retrieving and we are going to start teaching some impulse control with it (wait to be released).

2) Mental Stimulation. Daily training is a must. Not just any type of training will do, it has to be training where the dog is required to do some thinking. Tracking is a great sport, but our choice is clicker training. Currently I am teaching blaze how to pick up a dummy and hold it. I’m purely free shaping this exercise (making the dog figure out what I want and slowly making it closer to the final behavior). I’ll try and video a session or two. After 20 minutes of this game, he’s usually tired.

3) Chewing. My personal favorite: antlers.

4) Time. This too shall pass. I keep telling myself that every day. I remember when Nitro was young, the troubles I had with him. He was a sniffer, a puller, a barker and now he is a really nice dog.

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