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Changes in Behavior During Adolesence

Discussion in 'Training & Behavior' started by Stella0829, Dec 22, 2015.

  1. Anyone notice a change in their dogs behavior when they started to come into adolescence around 2 years old? My dog has been making subtle growls and lifting up her lip in certain scenarios (HA). She has never done this before.
  2. wicked13

    wicked13 Top Dog

    If the dog trys to bite put it to sleep ,,,,, also what scenarios cause the growling is it possessive of objects?
  3. Bmf_bt

    Bmf_bt Big Dog

    Any dog of mine that growls aggresivly at me gets a smack in the face, if they make good on their threats they'll end up in the dirt
  4. Yeah possessive of a new bone she got and growls if you move her when sleeping.
  5. Stratman

    Stratman Big Dog

    I would throw the new bone away...
  6. wicked13

    wicked13 Top Dog

    Are you actually sure the dog would bite I had a dog that would act all possessive but push come to shove all he did was make noise never tried to snap just was possessive to the point the dog would run from one side of the yard to the other just to keep it and then when u cornered him he made all kinds of fuss . What I mean by this the dog could just be toy crazy or overly toy driven But I'm not sure on the sleeping thing Does she sleep with u cause I don't know why she would need to be moved while sleeping
  7. CajunBoulette

    CajunBoulette CH Dog

    Well I've had a few that would go nuts if you bumped into them or touched then while sleeping. But they would wake up and see it was me and give me a "you stupid fuck" look. As far as being possessive over toys most have one that they will be about, but if they try to keep me from getting it I just forcefully take it and they never see it again. Or take it for a week or so and try again

    Sent from my 306SH using Tapatalk
  8. Mr.Revolution

    Mr.Revolution CH Dog

    Stop being scared of yall own dogs.If the dog growled u should have reached rite in and grab the toy and took it away if u scared u prob shouldnt own a dog .all them growls and snarls dont mean shit to me .I pretty much dare em to bite cause its the only way to know if they will.if u let the bluffs (growls and such)work the dog will learn this and use it and it may become a real prob then.Bottom line be the boss .if the dog bites u put it down.simple
  9. Jsullivan

    Jsullivan Pup

    Use the same practice

    Sent from my SM-G900T using Tapatalk
  10. Jsullivan

    Jsullivan Pup

    Strongly agree

    Sent from my SM-G900T using Tapatalk
  11. Cerberus

    Cerberus Premium Member Premium Member

    This can be a complicated matter. Sometimes easy to figure out and correct, and sometimes not so much. To the OP, I will suggest a couple of articles for better understanding of body language, and matters we commonly create on our own unwittingly. I will also take the time to get more in depth with this in a later post, since I am on a time restriction right now.

    These articles will give you an introduction to a dogs communication system. Please extract the factually information out of it, and leave the "opinion" side alone. These articles are written by renowned trainers/behaviorist. They are clicker trainers, and will promote clicker training, and while there is a specific time and place for it, there are easier and equally effective methods that can resolve this problem.

    We often times hear, "it was out of the blue", when in actuality we have ignored vital, low level, communication signals from the dog showing his/her discomfort. Regardless of what some may say otherwise, there is a very big difference between forced compliance and allowing the dog to be themselves, but still hold the expectation that they can be obedient. If this is a "learned behavior", through some subtle changes in handling technique, this should become more predictable, and you should be able to train it out of them, but that takes understanding on both you and the dogs side. I will dive further into this later.

    Please take a look at this information, and I will get my 2cents up soon, as to what is happening. If you can also provide some examples of situations this happens in, and in as much detail as possible, I would be happy to help. In the mean time, please stay away from forcing your dog to do anything as it will only make matters worse. Many a good dog have been put down by people not understanding why they act the way they do. The issues is being able to see causes behind it, whether created or genetic.

    Article 1: http://suzanneclothier.com/pdfs/He%20Just%20Wants%20To%20Say%20Hi.pdf

    Article 2: http://www.clickertraining.com/node/2225

    In regards to forceful methods, and dogs should be these obedient machines that should act perfect and be obedient machines, well a dog is a product of our handling ability. Not having a greater understanding of situations that have an effect on why dogs do some of the things they do, is not only in injustice to the dog, but to the relationship/bond with the handler/family. You work on this bond, and within the dogs capacity, and you will have a strong companion that will want to work that much harder at what you have them do.
  12. Cerberus

    Cerberus Premium Member Premium Member

    First lets address the reason you are seeing the changes now, and what leads up to this. Often times you will here me refer to learned behavior vs inherent behavior, both of which have an impact on how a dog turns out in adulthood. A dogs communication system is another area I refer to often. A thorough understanding of the life stages, and body language, can help avoid some of the most common problems, whether it be a house dog or working dog. This also, often times, determines whether you have a nervy/handler dependent dog (one too nervous to make a decision on their own), or a free thinking dog, one that can adapt to situations and take instruction on the fly. For purposes on this site you can see it in many dog yards, whether visiting or on video.

    Also before getting started. You will hear me refer to many instances using human examples (anthropomorphizing), then relating it back to dogs. this is the easiest way to get a point across, and can help to put dog behavior in perspective to a point. I will however try my best to bring it back to how dogs typically process the information, and the effects this can cause.

    At 18 months to 24 months, these dogs are coming into their adulthood stage. The life experience dogs have had up to this point will help determine whether they are confident and stable, or whether they feel they now need to intervene or communicate in an undesirable way. This does not mean we screwed up, or intentionally screwed up, but should an indicator that there are some fundamentals that should be learned to keep these behaviors from progressing. I would like to quickly address dog bites and suggestions that the dog needs to be put to sleep. Biting (people) is never a good thing for a dog to learn, but it is also a highly situational. The example you are giving here is a common example of what people experience with a variety of strong minded breeds. If we put a dog in a position to bite us by not having a basic understanding of what causes it, is it really the dogs fault? One can argue all day that a dog is not suppose to bite, but if I am annoying you personally, would you not eventually get aggravated and yell at me? My point is, if we change minor things at an early age we often times can eliminate this all together, unless there is an underlying genetic issue. Lets get into this part.

    there are many articles/studies done on fear periods, so start with this intro. https://berkeleyhumane.org/files/galleries/CriticalFear.pdf

    So we have a new pup, regardless of whether for working or house pet, what can we do to make sure this dog gets the best possible chance at a stable mentality, especially once they have reached their adult stage. First, setting up a constant behavior protocol is vital in getting everyone involved with handling this dog on a daily basis on the same page. In turn, this will set up a consistent set up rules for the dog and all people involved to follow. The greater the consistency, the more it counters the dogs ability to learn negative behaviors on it's own. The fear periods puppies hit, can be easy identify if we are diligent and watch for behavior change. Once the dog start showing nervousness of any kind, this is where we need to introduce confidence building in a controlled way but, more often than not, human behavior takes over, and we feel the need to coddle these dogs because they are cute or whatever our reasons are. The problem with this is, in dog language, when you try to reassure the nervous dog, you are actually praising them, and telling them this is exactly how you want them to behave in this situation, therefore strengthening the fear. You can see where this could get out of hand quickly, and the result is often times a very timid dog, that has a high potential to turn fear aggressive when older. These are basic concepts to start early on. The same happens with the pushy/rude dog, often times called "dominant", which is a misuse of the word. Like a child that interrupts 2 adults talking, we have 2 options. First, we can interrupt our conversation and cater to the child, in which he will learn this how everyone should be with him. Or we can use as a teachable moment. Is the child that is taught that whenever they speak everyone jumps, going to grow up to respect others? Or is the child brought up with a general rule guideline, and taught to be respectful, going to be more stable? Now apply this to every day social situation.

    Your dog is now 2 years, and you are seeing very specific behaviors coming out. Resource guarding, and high level warning signals. How did the dog get here. Well, without knowing your training methods or everyday habits, it is simply a guess. Lets instead focus on where to go from here, and I will though in prevention tips where necessary.

    Example one: Puppy grows up with family or couple. Puppy has little training, or even trained under a theory that is more forced compliance than actual "training". Whether it is the family that isolates the dog, or the family that tries to socialize the dog, it does not matter. We can do everything in our power to let dogs play, and meet others, but if we do not know when to step in an correct issues, the damage is already done. This is common when dogs are playing or meeting people. The dog can be displaying all kinds of signs of discomfort, yet we say look the dog is being submissive, shy, or whatever the label of the day is. We in turn either coddle that dog, or ignore that dogs signals and throw them into the fire (to play with another dog for example), and say "He just wants to play". In reality, we should be picking up on that dogs body language, find a "positive out" for that situation, then take the time to work on confidence building, rather than just telling the dog to get over it by allowing this to continue, or saying "let the dogs work it out". We do not let 2 children work it out, and yes, dogs are very different, but the principles are very much alike here. If a child is shy, you do not through them into a full auditorium and tell them to speak and get over their fear.

    So now we have this puppy, that becomes very conflicted. It is trying to communicate as much as possible, but the only thing the dogs learns is that low level communication does not work. The dog will occasionally raise this up to a warning level, where in turn we punish the dog. this is where the negative cycle begins. Just because we punish the dog, it does not mean the dog no longer feels the way he does about that particular situation, which allows tension and stress to build up. This in turn produces a great amount of conflict to the dog. These feelings get repressed, due to the dog getting punished, and frustrations sits at a low fester. Now the dog gets to their adulthood stage, and brain chemistry changes. Now we see all the signals you have pointed out here. The dog is no longer a conflicted adolescent, and gains the confidence to "speak up" in the situations he was unable to before. Here is how it can get out of control quickly.

    Example 1: Family gets puppy. Children constantly sit on, play with, lay next to, hug, touch dog. Dog constantly displays low level signals. Stress yawn, This is the big over exaggerated yawn you would see from that dog. You may also see the dog trying to move away, look away, exaggerated lick lip down side of face, picking up paw and looking the other way (if sitting) or hiding behind a person or object to get away from a situation. It now turns into a game with the kids chasing the dog around, or constant contact the dog does not want. this is where the conflict comes in. The dog of course loves being around everyone, but does not like the form of interaction. Frustration and conflict build. Now the dog gets of age, and those low level signals turn into a growl, hackles raised, quick tongue flicks to the nose, wide eyes (known as whale eye), stiff body posture, etc. When we see this, we see the dog as being the problem, not the actual circumstances that trained the dog to feel this way. I am sure you can see the issue here, but not knowing much of what I have just explained, the common person now punishes the dog. This sort of behavior is intolerable and should not be happening. We yell at the dog no, or worse for that matter. Now the dog simply learns that communications itself is not allowed. The dog still feels the same way emotionally, so again, tension and conflict build. The negative dynamic continues, yet the dog is suppose to just sit there and take it because they are to be these obedient machines, that do not have a thought process of their own. Now the phrases I love to here. "It was out of the blue" or " he has never done anything like this before" or "the dog just turned". No, we have trained this dog to not communicate, and that the its feelings are meaningless. This diminishes the relationship between person/family and dog, and the misunderstanding continues. We either get rid of this dog because he is too unpredictable, or we punish to the point of a serious situation occurring. Is this the dogs fault? Not in the least, yet it is the dog that will get blamed, and the dysfunctional cycle will continue with the next dog.

    Example 2: We are taught to do some pretty stupid things at an early age with dogs, and often times refuse to learn anything more. Dogs are all the same right? If I had success with my past 3 dogs, (golden, lab or rescues mix) then there certainly shouldn't be a difference with a Jack Russel, mastiff or pitbull right? Person gets new dog. From watching tv, or not doing research on trainers/methods, they put their hand in the dogs food bowl, or pets the dogs back every night while the dog eats. this is to get the dog use to us around their food. Same thing goes for toys. Also, when you come home, the dog is demanding of attention, which we tend to cater to. If we are sitting on the couch watching tv, the dog just jumps up without asking, or puts head on leg, as to say, it is time for you to give me attention. When we allow this to happen, some call it the dog being dominant. Frankly, it is the dog being rude, plain and simple. Now something changes, and this is no longer okay for the dog to be doing. Again this creates conflict for the dog as it gets older. No, your dog does not want your hand in its food bowl, this can create an uneasiness for the dog and create the very thing you are trying to avoid. This can happen to the puppy that is always last to eat in a litter as well. The frustration grows to the point the dog feels the need to become possessive, in order to keep what is usually taken away. Or you go to kick the dog off the couch and he growls. You have taught the dog that rules do not matter, and that they are allowed to do what they want, when they want because you are always there to let them win their own way. So now you try to enforce the rules. Well, it does not take much to see that the dog is not going to be happy with this. Sure you can say, well I don't care, they dog is suppose to listen to what I say. Unfortunately it does not work that way, regardless of how much your dogs listen just because you get mad. These are the same dogs you will see cower or drop their bellies to the ground and look up (often times with quick tongue flicks to the tip of the nose) when you walk onto a yard, or in someone's home vs the dogs that you see with a great attitude and loose wagging bodies. The dog that is nervous with the owner with the I don't give a shit attitude, will more often than not, fail to perform at the level of the well adjusted dog, that has confidence in his handler or family. I am sure there are those that would dispute this citing experience, however, between science and experience with applied practices for working dogs, we can prove that without a doubt there is a dramatic difference in performance between these two differences in handling styles. It is often times the fact that people are comfortable with what they know, and do not have a need to build their own skill sets. Or say this is how it was done decades ago, when there are much more efficient ways that have been developed since to get from point A to Z.

    How to correct this. Well, at this point it can be tricky and frustrating. Your dog has clearly learned these behaviors, that did not seem to be there before (based on what little info given in post). The dog seems to have been (unintentionally) taught that its low level signals are meaningless, and now leads automatically with warning signals to make sure you know he means business the first time around. He/she is now at a point they can vocalize and stand up for themselves, no long needing to put up with the things they have told you make them uncomfortable (most likely since a pup). Again, there will be those with the attitude of tough shit, my dog is to do my bidding, whether he likes it or not. The problem with this, especially in working breeds, this will usually end up with a not so good outcome for the dog! The alternative, is you have a dog that know what the expectations are at an early age, is never put in a position of failure or frustration, knows its handler/family has a strong understanding of it's communication, so the dog becomes a stable pillar of the family with a mutual understanding. Dogs will always be dogs, and of course you can expect them to still do things that you do not want them to do. The difference is the response. Only once the dog has a complete understanding of what the house rules/expectations are, only then can we effectively use "punishment" methods to correct this dogs behavior. It also means that it takes very little, in terms of punishment, to get the result because the dog has an understanding already, knows he is trying to get away with something, but will be quick to respond to "training commands" therefore getting the dog under control much more effectively than those trained with a heavy hand, and are handler/punishment shy. Also, for house dogs, keep in mind forceful methods may work for the adults of the house, but can we really expect a child to handle a 40lbs fireball in the same way? Now think of this example if the dog has a full understanding of what the expectations are, and has confidence in its handler/family. A child or grandmother would be able to handle this same dog, therefore the methods are far more conducive to the over all family need.

    Correcting this will take some time and dedication, but can be done if not a genetic disposition. Doing work to rebuild the dogs low level communication can be looked at as a chore, and well lets face it, what we currently know and have always done is just easier than learning something new right? Or we can take the time to learn these things, set up training scenarios with our dog on a daily basis working on these issues, and in turn working on the handler/dog relationship.

    My personal suggestion is to see a "certified" behavior consultant. A true "behaviorist" has a PhD, so avoid anyone using that title if they cannot produce the degree to back it up. As for a "certified behavior consultant" these people will typically have extensive training time under another trainer, and be required to study dog learning theory/husbandry, and then be knowledge assessed to make sure they have a complete understanding of what they are talking about, and the tools needed to train properly. This absolutely makes a difference when we take into consideration that you can go put your name on a business card right now and call yourself a trainer, with no one to answer to otherwise.

    For management/safety purposes. Until you are able to seek the right person to get a better grasp on these principles, I would suggest the following. Stop doing what is making the dog respond in this manner. If the dog has a bone (resource guarding), do not try to take the bone away directly. Simply get a high value training treat (freeze dried cod for example) and call the dog away and throw the treat in an opposite direction, therefore leaving you to safely remove the bone from site, and avoiding confrontation/additional damage.

    I hope this makes sense. I tend to have to interrupt my responses up here to get things done, so if I have incomplete thoughts anywhere, or like my last post 2 merging thoughts that don't quite make sense in a particular paragraph, please do not hesitate to ask for clarification. Unfortunately, I do not always have the ability to proof read.

    I would also like to make clear, that this is solely my point of view, based on the info given. Not everyone will agree, and that is fine. I would be glad to debate differences in opinion in a healthy manner, non insulting manner. These are but a couple common examples geared toward house dogs, and there can be some minor variances when it comes to outside working dogs. The goal is to get people realizing these problems do have reasons behind them and, are more often than not, are completely misunderstood. That is why I say many a good dog have been put down from lack of understanding the basics.

    Anyway I hope this helps.
  13. Cerberus

    Cerberus Premium Member Premium Member

    I would also like to quickly mention, that while I am long winded with explanation, and some of this sounds complicated, it is easy once learned. You will begin recognizing many mistakes, and most importantly instantly improve the dogs life. I would quickly like to mention as well, that while there will be different ideas given, one can not realistically expect their dog to learn by a smack in the face. I understand this is a common limitation in knowledge, but very dangerous, and counter productive advice. This also strongly decreases the potential of the dog, regardless of the "job" given. This is too much evidence proving that at this point. And is that not what being about dogs is all about. Bringing out the best in the dog, so they can be the best at what they do? Just my 2 cents there.

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