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Gracie is nine months now and has fully embraced the bratty teenager role. I admire her ambition in doing this to the utmost, and she clearly is a dog that will never do anything half way, but she’s giving me a run for my money!

All but one of my dogs were adults when I got them and I never have trained a puppy for performance. Not sure if I’m failing miserably or if this is just part of the growing pains of a confident, willful dog.

First off, she had a beautiful recall in the yard from up to 50 ft away, and that has disappeared. She now looks at me and clearly decides that the baby bunnies and moles are far more interesting than any treat I give her for coming.
I’m now proofing recalls with less distance in the house and baby distances outdoors. I plan to gradually increase distance.

Secondly, she can’t be off leash at agility class anymore. She was doing well until she discovered zooming around the arena is more fun than anything I offer her. However...If I leave the leash dangling, she doesn’t zoom, but it inhibits her doing the obstacles well, and there’s a safety issue. She does have a beautiful stay at the start line when I leave the leash dangling. Because of this, I asked last class if I should take the leash off and the trainer replied “try it”. So I did and she stayed nicely at the start line, I walked out about 6- 8 ft, called, her and she looked totally committed to the tunnel. She reached the tunnel, had a split second sideways glance, and off she ran to the puppy on the other side of the arena. Ugh. This was followed by about 5 minutes of zooming around playing “keep away.”

Maybe I shouldn’t have led out so far, or maybe shouldn’t have taken her off lead at all? Maybe I should get a short two foot lead that won’t dangle so much but still gives her the sensation of a lead?

I have been working on impulse control in the house and she will sit in a long group stay with the other dogs. The yard is a different story. Maybe I’m not providing enough mental stimulation for her...or maybe she has too much? Perhaps she now expects life to be just one big party all the time.

What do you think of Susan Garret’s crate games? It might be the structure she (and I) need. How would I do this with three other dogs in the house who aren’t using crates? Should I set up four crates and do it together? It would be hard to separate her from them given the layout of our house.

Thanks!
 

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I will snicker, this is the age when Leonard turned into a teenage D*I*C*K*. I know that doesn't help. I am sure other folks will have solid advice, but my most challenging puppy was Beatrice, I had to wear her out a bit to get any sort of attention from her to even do basic commands, and she turned out to be my most obedient dog.
 

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I well remember the day Sophy, after months of happy compliance, looked at me calling her and stayed where she was... I think you just have to recognise that the brain is rewiring, and go back to baby steps. Keep reinforcing, keep things fun, avoid opportunities for misbehaviour to become a habit, and remember that this too shall pass.
 
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Welcome to nine-months! There's a developmental switch that happens around this age. The sweet eager puppy who followed your every lead suddenly just stops. It's like the puppy is saying, "Wait a sec, why should I do what you say?" The dog who always came flying when you called, turns around and runs the other way. You're standing there with your treats and feeling like an idiot and wondering what went wrong.

Your puppy is now acting like a human 13-year-old. Human 13-year-olds are three-year-olds with larger vocabularies. They need you to step in and set limits. And they need you to hold them. Your puppy has a larger list of possible behaviors, and is thinking up new ones all the time. Some behaviors you will like. Some you will not like. Just like you would for a teenage human, set limits and hold to your limits.

The leash coming off at agility practice needs to stop for now. Until you can put a $100 on a table and bet me that your dog will come when called, leave the leash on. Limit opportunities to make mistakes by using your leash and a crate. Yes, a leash will slow down your agility training plans, but learning slowly is the fast way in the long run. The less opportunities your dog has to learn the wrong thing the better. Also, talk to your trainer about the teenage rebellion phase and how to manage it during class.

I have good news for you, though. That sweet eager to please puppy is your dog's default mode. It will come back once the teenage phase is done. The more you manage your puppy now, the greater your rewards will be once you do take the leash off.

Hide and seek in the house strengthens recalls, and dogs love this game. Grab your treats, put your dog in a stay in the kitchen. Go hide. Call once and wait. Then praise your clever dog for finding you. You can hide behind trees in the yard, too. Have patience. This too will pass, but you can help it pass without losing your mind by managing your dog.
 

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Yep, this is very typical and something I’m dreading coming up with my sweet now-6 month old. But this, too, shall pass!

YES, I swear by Crate Games. I do the program religiously, and it’s not just about the crate—it’s about the whole idea of self-control, letting the dog make choices, and the whole concept of the “control positions” from which the dog doesn’t move without a further command. Crate Games help with start line stays and contacts, too, in other words! So yeah, I would go in and work them even at your puppy’s age. You can start with any age dog.

We’re at the same point as you in Agility class, actually, where the dogs have learned the obstacles and now we’re starting to let them off leash at the start lines and mini-sequences to see what happens. Do you have a tab? That’s just a little six-inch or so “leash” that you can attach to their collar that doesn’t interfere with the obstacle, and yet gives you that little extra something to grab. The ones I have are leather with a knot on the end. You can buy or even make one easily enough.

You’re right to go back to baby steps on the recall activities, and don’t neglect working on everything with the dog “in arousal,” which sounds like it shouldn’t be too difficult since you have other dogs to provide distractions. Until you have reliability again, I would hope the class assistants will help by holding your dog before sequences or help act as blockers.

You’ll get all the abilities back. But yeah, it’s tough getting through the bratty teenage phase!
 

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OMG, Thank you all for the encouragement and invaluable advice!

Twyla, she is truly the feminine form of *D*I*C*K! The female corresponding term to **** doesn’t sound so nice, and even in my most exasperated moments, I’m not at that word! I do hope I am telling a similar tale to your Beatrice down the road. Provides hope for the future!

FJM, absolutely perfect characterization of Gracie! I stand there with my very confident “Gracie come” expecting her to come bounding up the porch, like she used to, and she’s off sniffing the daisies. Grrr. It’s usually five minutes before I need to leave for work and my husband is stuck corralling her in. Good thing he really likes her.

Peggytheparti, puppyhood is a challenge for sure! I actually welcomed the puppy challenges though, but my story is a little different. Gracie is the only dog I have gotten from a good breeder. I have had to “fix” so many things in many adult rescue dogs in the past. When the priority is figuring out how to get a dog to feel safe in their environment, worries about brattiness just aren’t part of the picture. Being a bratty teenager is a luxury afforded to dogs(and humans) who have had all their basic needs met. Such a different experience with Gracie who was truly born with a silver spoon in her mouth. I was welcoming the chance to raise her in good life from the start, and it has been wonderful. But this teenage thing is throwing me for a loop and I really feel like I’m failing her. Let’s continue to trade stories as our pups grow. Hearing someone else’s struggles makes it easier.

Click n treat, as usual you have incredible information and insight into training. So funny the analogy of 13 year olds being three year olds with larger vocabularies! Having raised three kids through teenage years, with all of us somehow surviving, and even thriving...I appreciate that analogy! I love your framing of this being temporary and related to a switch in the brain. Makes sense. I am going to play the hide and seek in the house, I think that will be a fun game for her. And then maybe I can take it outside or on the woodsy trail behind our house with a long lead. Maybe hide behind a tree and have her find me. That may help build distraction into the picture.

Quossum , thank you so much for weighing in on crate games. I was looking at it last night and wondering if I should order it, but figured I’d lean into folks here first to see if it’s worth it. I will order that now. I can see how making choices can use up some good intellectual energy, and build strong performance behaviors. I do not have a tab, but have many old leashes that can be retrofitted to that...or I’ll just pick one up. She does seem to register that the leash is there and behave differently. I was thinking of only letting her out in the yard on a thirty foot training lead so we can work on recall too. There only 5 puppies in the class I’m in, so no assistants needed. The instructor is great though and will help hold her at the start line.

Ever upward! Many thanks to all for your advice and encouragement. In spite of her adolescent antics, Gracie is remarkable in so many ways. Loving this girl, I just want to right by her.
 
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Besides all the other great tips you've gotten, I'll add something I did with my Dobe when we lived in the wilderness area of Priest Lake Id. We hiked almost every day because it was right outside the door....trails and trails galore. But there were bears, deer, elk, moose, wolves, coyotes and other game. This was also grizzly bear territory. I could NOT have dogs that didn't obey my recall ever, ever, ever! That had to be rock solid, no matter what. Other animals are very hard to resist. (including dogs in your class) The Chihuahuas obeyed well. They were too chicken to run way off. But my young Dobe, though he had a very good recall under "regular" circumstances needed more training because he was FAST as lightening if he would chase some animal.

So, what I did was get a helper, a 5 gal. bucket, a long rope, some faux prey with some prey scent that I got at a sporting good store. Treats aren't, as you're finding out the only thing dogs want in every situation. They're great for many situations but when it comes to being distracted or oblivious to your recall because of another animal, be it a squirrel, a deer or another domestic dog. Whenever a dog is not minding you and you see that the treat isn't what he wants, it's prudent to figure out a way to create something where he can have what he wants. (or something resembling that as closely as possible.) The concept I keep in mind is doggie zen. lol. You want that? Okay, you can have that. But first do this.

So I had my helper stand at one end of my yard with the bucket next to her. She dragged and wiggled the faux prey around by the rope. The dog was very enticed by this. I called him to come. He already had a good recall...fairly good. When he didn't mind me because this "creature" was so very interesting, when he got close to it, the bucket went over it. He could not get it. He'd paw at the bucket, sniff, etc. I waited. He looked back at me. And I called one more time if he didn't come on his own. (prefer not to repeat) So, he came to me. Good boy, now go get that prey. So she'd remove the bucket and run around the yard dragging the prey and he got to play with it for a minute. Repeated that 2 or 3 times and that was it for the day. Periodically we played that game.

Later when we were hiking one time, there were 4 or 5 deer and he began to chase them. I called him. He took about two more strides and I called him again, more loudly. And he made a quick U turn and came to me. So, in mid chase he came. But it did take me two times to call him.

I think the crate games are great too. More practice. And try when you can to reward with the thing she really wants. If she wants to go see a dog at class and the owner and the trainer say it's okay or better yet, practice this not in class, but some other time or context, try the same context. Only don't put a 5 gal. bucket over the other dog. :afraid: Just use perhaps a long line (which is a last resort) but somehow prevent her from getting to the dog. Come first, then you can go visit with the other dog.

As far as stay, I never call my dogs from a stay. I go to them. In agility, naturally, you have to send the dog to the first obstacle. But I would recommend never using your cue to come when you've asked your dog to stay. I use to use a tab in agility when we were starting. But my Dobe was really focused on me and what he was suppose to do, (working group) so it wound up that he didn't need it. But they're a good tool and it gives you a little extra security. If Gracie is zooming off in agility class, does your trainer think that it might be good to get these basics a little stronger first before doing off leash kinds of stuff? It seems like it would just give her more opportunity to practice the behaviors you don't want. Maybe she's almost perfect and it's just this one thing. So, you can get her stronger with it soon. Just practice more where she CAN succeed.
 
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PBg, thanks for your advice! We can play the bucket game, i can get m6 husband to help. There is no doubt in my mind that the bag on a string will be a huge draw for her. I tried lure coursing with her and she took right to it. She’s has a very. strong prey drive. I too hike with my dogs and would like Gracie to be able to be off lead and there’s is now way right now I would attempt that. There is also a recall class locally that I’m going to sign up for. Can’t hurt to have structure to practice in, and another set of eyes on her behavior. The idea using other dogs as a reward is s9meyj8ng I hadn’t thought of, but that 8s a huge reward for her. Every dog she meets is her new BFF, I can use that!
Many thanks!
 
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What I've come to realize is, rewards are not always rewards. In other words, what might be a reward in one context might be almost a punishment in another. LOL. I think it was Patricia McConnell (it's been long since I read her books) who said that an 9 year old boy would love to have a hug at home while watching tv with his mom. But call him in from the baseball field where all his friends are watching and give a hug would be sheer torture. hahahaha. So...it's good to observe and try to see what it is that the dog wants at that time. And use that for the reward. If your dog wants to go see another dog, then fine...but do this first. LOL. If the dog isn't interested in another dog at this other place or time, but he'd love to be able to go jump over a jump or he'd love to chase a ball at this other time, then toss him the ball. It's one of those things to sort of be cognizant of in various scenarios, depending on what's going on.

Today, while outside with the dogs while I was doing yard chores, I wanted Matisse to stop snooping in my greenhouse for strawberries, the devil. So I knew what else he likes and I grabbed a cherry tomato and threw it for him. "go fetch." He treats them like balls. haha. So, I told him to "leave it" (the strawberries) and here....here's something else you might like just fine. He thinks their the funniest things ever.
 
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