Rambunctious Teenagers

By Sindhoor Pangal, Bangalore Mirror Bureau | Jan 26, 2015, 09.37 PM IST

The most common case I encounter at work is of juvenile hyper big dogs. Many pet parents are ill-equipped with information. So they struggle with the dog. Some abandon dogs. Some endure till the dog becomes mature and calmer. Some dogs may never get there. Pet parents even start to resent the dog. It’s all very unfortunate because all it takes is some minor changes to lifestyle and attitude to fix these issues, as long as the health of the dog is good.

Most pet parents are ill-informed that if a dog is hyper, then the right thing to do is to tire the dog out. So they walk the dog endlessly on stressful walks and play fetch countless times. But all of this does not calm down a dog. It only stresses a dog further. So the stressed dog acts more hyper at the end of the walk. So parents walk their dogs more and play fetch more. Thus they are stuck in a dreadful loop. Break the loop. Stop all the things that stress the dog out for a few weeks. Stop tug, fetch, long walks, runs and other activities that make the dog more hyper.

The second thing to do is to start giving the dog better outlets for his energy. Dogs are chewers by nature. Give your dog plenty of things to chew. A few old toys will not cut it. Get creative. A coconut on one day. A twig on another. The branches of coconut trees that vendors just toss aside. These make for great new interesting objects. Bones, chicken feet, raw hide should be a must in a canine household and should be available to the dog in plenty and then some more.

When you have a dog, you have essentially signed up for a lifestyle that will not allow the most clean of houses. The house being littered by toys and chews is a common sight and dogs do need that. Look around your room and see it from your dog’s perspective. Everything is off bounds to the dog. The house could be empty for all he cares. Don’t you think that among all your things, he is entitled to a few things of his own. After all, it’s his home too now, right?

Dogs also need outlets for their minds, not just physical exercise. The best way to exercise a dog’s mind is to exercise his nose. Treat search, where he has to use his nose, is the easiest way to do this. If your dog is not searching for treats, then the treats are perhaps not tempting enough. Try sausages or paneer cut up into tiny bits, the size of your little fingernail. A few short sessions a day should do. If your dog is on a kibble diet, you can strew his meal around too, instead of serving it in a bowl. Multi-dog households can also manage this very easily. As the treats are scattered wide, dogs focus on getting the treats and don’t fight. But remember to use an entire room or even the entire house. Lawn is the best.

Shorten walks to tolerable durations. Don’t stress yourself out. Switch to a long leash and walk during odd hours where you are unlikely to encounter too many dogs or people. Slow down your walk to a snail’s pace and allow your dog to sniff. Get some help if you have to. But get your dog walking calm. This is completely worth investing some time and patience in.

As all the hormones that made him hyper in the first place start draining from him, you will see less of destruction, pulling, jumping, chewing etc. Until then, refrain from yelling at him too much. He is already very stressed. He does not need more. A hyper dog needs help in calming down. So focus entirely on things that calm your dog down. You will start seeing results in a few weeks. And teenagers will calm down around the age of two. Give them time, space and peace until then.

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