FIZZING INTO SPRING WITH EXCITABLE TEENS
We're finding that a lot of our teen dogs are particularly fizzy at the moment.
Some dogs can be especially sensitive as they progress through their teens. It's an evolutionary survival mechanism. As they become more independent and curious, their bodies need to be primed for flight in case of danger.
Just because there isn't a sabre toothed tiger lurking in the bushes in our modern, urban world, it doesn't mean our teen dogs' bodies know that. Their bodies will have higher levels of cortisol and adrenaline during this period and these chemicals are also responsible for raised levels of frustration and low tolerance.
You may find that your dog is barking at things more than she used to, especially at new things that suddenly appear where they haven't been before. Two of our special fizzy boys have done this recently. Pippin took exception to a parked car in a local bungalow that had been empty for several months before being sold. Henry the Brave decided a new swede in the vegetable drawer was terrifying and needed barking at!
Like children, some teenage dogs may sail confidently through this period with just a few blips, while others can have periods of really struggling.
These dogs are likely to find it hard to settle, are frequently agitated and they may even regress to increased mouthing and chewing. Their bodies are chock full of hormones and that can lead to a lot of frustration!
And talking of hormones, the world is full of them at the moment. Small furry critters and birds are creeping out of hibernation and getting a bit jiggy about mating. Henry's mum has noticed that Henry is a lot more interested in bird poo lately and was right when she wondered if there are increased levels of hormones in the poo. There are: birds excrete a cocktail of waste material from things they ingest mixed and stirred with hormones, so every little splat will be fascinating to some dogs!
There is an upsurge in the number of bitches who come into season during the spring and some dogs can find it really hard if they can smell either a hormonal bitch living closely, or one who walks by their house. Dogs can smell scents up to a mile away, so this period can be very difficult for some boys, whose world is suddenly filled with a huge increase of oestrogen and progesterone in the air.
It can be tempting to try to tire out a dog who becomes agitated and can't settle with lots of play and long walks. I think this February and March have been especially challenging for owners of fizzy teens because they can feel a bit trapped in the house with a ragingly hormonal adolescent during lockdown - and that'sjust the canine one! Adding human teens in the mix can make things feel quite overwhelming for some families. It's especially hard when you have to deal with bored children who use playing with the dog as their own stress-buster. It may work for the child, but it's generally counterproductive for the dog and can often increase nipping and mouthing.
It's hard to hold zoom meetings when you have a pacing, panting, whining or barking hound in the background. Many owners find themselves resorting to trying to distract with play and attention just to get their dogs to shut up and leave them alone.
But attention and play are addictive to the teen brain. Dopamine is a powerful chemical that activates parts of the brain that control both anticipation and the rush of feel-good that comes with attention and play. The more you give, the more the teenage brain wants.
The other thing about giving more walks, play and stimulation is that the brain and body don't get enough rest throughout the day, which is the thing that teenagers need more than anything to help help bodies cope with this period. Too much input results in a switched-on brain that struggles to settle.
The best thing that you can do for an agitated teen is make her world feel smaller and safe again.
Reduce the length of walks and keep them to familiar places where there are likely to be fewer encounters with other hormonal dogs. The more secluded your walks are, the better for your dog.
Give more chews throughout the day to help your dog deal with frustration. Goat ears, Olivewood sticks, ostrich bones * from JR products and raw rib bones * are great stress-busters.
Reduce input. Make sure your teen has a safe place where they love to be, where she has access to safe toys and chews and a comfortable bed where she can rest.
Replace family input with a daily Sniff Trail. Sniff Trails are amazing! They calm an agitated mind, tire out a fizzy brain and help develop strong impulse control, which helps dogs deal with frustration.
Have a look at our Facebook page to see how to set up and use Sniff Trails to help fizzy teens come through spring with their Thinking-Dog 3 Cs: calmly, connectedly and with self-control 😊
*Never give cooked bones because they can splinter and cause choking.z
Many thanks to our some of our Fizzy teens who are featured here
Contact Fern on 07908427031 if you need support with your fizzy teen. We are currently running Zoom sessions and 1:1 sessions outside due to social restrictions. Please be aware that we currently have a 4 week waiting list for evening and weekend sessions.