Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Life with a teenager

Yup, at just 7 months old, and only a few short months after losing his baby teeth, Orent is fully in the throes of teenager-hood. While the 7-for-7 post may have given you some idea about what Orent is like, I thought I'd share some of the less delightful aspects. So far, Orent hasn't started humping things and he hasn't been caught doing any obvious marking. What he has started to do is be naughty.

He definitely has more energy and needs less sleep. He plays more aggressively (anyone else with a teenaged puppy want to plan a playdate for some extra goofy dog rasslin'?). But mostly what I've noticed is that any command that we haven't gotten to perfection (that would be ok, hurry, sit, maybe Orent, maybe wait, and perhaps brief downs) he willfully ignores. For one thing, he's gotten good at the cost benefit analysis and he's hard to fool. He looks to see, "do they have a treat? Am I on a leash? Can they make me?" And whereas before he would stare at you with that, "hmm, I don't think I've heard that command before... remind me please?" Now he's been known to turn and walk or run away.

Keep away, which we thought we'd nipped in the bud, has re-emerged. Toys, sure, he'll bring those back (but won't drop them unless there's an exchange or he's really bored). But socks, underwear, sunglasses, lens caps, anything found on the floor he will go Tigger-bounding around the house and with pure devilment in his eyes, ignore all commands. Unless, of course, you have treats. In that case, he's Mr. Perfect. I guess like many early-pubescent boys there's a new organ in charge, and it's his stomach! I dread the day when it's that other organ...

Our response is that he's losing his off-leash privileges. Our hallway is 30 feet long, and so is his long leash, so hall-ball is now played on leash. We're always well armed with treats and ready to reel in a naughty dog who's doing his best to pretend to ignore us! And our fearless leader, Katrina, reminded us to wear him out intellectually and physically, so we're doing morning play sessions indoors and out, longer walks, and will try him on some new (hard!) commands and games like the pickle (listening) game, hide and seek, bed-bed-kennel, etc. However, the above is partly the best of intentions which we haven't done all of yet, consistently, and that's the big lesson...

Puberty means we have to be super good and super firm in our consistency! Some things, Orent just knows and knows perfectly. Like sit, hurry, ok. We taught those because we were consistent and we've practiced them several times a day, every single day, and they're always the same. Some of them, like hurry, have taken a long time of frustration. Ok happened almost instantly, because there's food at the end of the tunnel every single time, and Orent's brain is ON when there's food around. But "here" is not consistent for him. We aren't good at getting his attention... and it's because we haven't practiced it in the same patient focused way. We've given him freedom he hasn't earned. For example, in the neighbor's yard, he ignores me unless he knows I have food. I don't have it every time, and I didn't keep him on the leash until he was consistent, and so he learned, "oh, I guess I can do what I want here!" Now it will take a lot of patience and a lot of being willing to not focus on playing when we're over there. I need to always bring the long leash, the treats, get his attention early and often. I hope I can do it! I have no doubt he will do it if I just get my act together. His behaviors (and lack thereof) really reflect on us and our habits, which is hard in a way, but also good to realize how important our roles as puppy raisers are. It's good to see the feedback in the form of Orent's successes (he's polite, calm, a pleasure to be around, housebroken when we are reasonably responsive, waits patiently to be fed, etc.) and struggles (he's picky about when he listens, he's a floor licker, he's slow to respond to commands, we can't get his attention outdoors when he's off leash and even sometimes indoors, he plays keep away, etc.).


  1. Thanks for the "real" ... sometimes it feels like I'm all alone teetering between naughty and nice with Haddie. She truly is a gem, but can stink it up with the same examples as Orent. I am on your page!! =)

  2. Thanks Elle. I really try to blog about the naughty and the nice (hopefully Santa isn't reading this!). When I read other blogs right after getting Orent I was so intimidated because it seemed like everything was peachy for all the bloggers. I hope to show it's real and hard and so awesome all at the same time. I like that you show both sides with Haddie, even though I still feel unworthy reading how awesome you are with her ;)