Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Travels with a Turbulent Teen-Pup

Ah, the dog teens! One morning you wake up and your sweet, docile little puppy is BIG and STRONG and ACTIVE. You have just entered that wonderful season in a PR's life when your puppy's body grows faster than his self-control or his brain! And as if that isn't enough, the lines of communication that you thought you had so carefully forged with bonds of love and trust seem to have been unceremoniously cut. You ask puppy to SIT and he looks at you as if to say, "SIT? What foreign tongue do you speak? I search my list of dog vocabulary and SIT is not to be found. But sniping that half-eaten sandwich off the counter seems like a perfectly fine activity to me!" Welcome to the teens.

Downtown Chicago with Davey
I love the teens. Your dog has more stamina which gives you the freedom to go more places. The worry of busying your dog every half-hour to hour is not an issue, you can stay in public places for extended periods of time. Teen-pups can be incredibly endearing and fun. You are growing as a team of two. Unfortunately teen-pups can get rather complacent with their day-to-day routine ("Yawn, bor-ing!"). That is when they start "forgetting" so many of the behaviors you've been consistently training for months. You can get stuck in a rut. Pup's brain goes on autopilot. Or Pup can start predicting the next moves you make, and twist things to their advantage.

"Don't forget to pack the most important thing!" says Emmy.
However, when you take Teen-Pup traveling the tables are turned. The usual predictable routine is completely gone and every day is full of non-stop new adventures:  airports, hotels, strange houses and modes of transportation, unfamiliar neighborhoods, stores, people and tourist-like activities all stretch the Puppy in many directions. Right off the bat he's thinking:  "Wow, I woke up in this strange place - what's next?" Constantly he's asking a multitude of questions and looking to you for the answers and guidance. Answers as basic as "Where is the front door?" or "This car looks nothing like my car, so where do I sit?" or "What do we do this morning...this about in the next 10 minutes?"
Ranger at Denali National Park with Mt. McKinley in the background. As a guide dog in training he could hike in the park and ride the buses.

 Now I, Puppy Raiser and Fearless Leader, can indisputably climb back into the driver's seat and call the shots. And Puppy is back in the passenger seat (or sitting on the floor) like in the good old days looking up at me with respect and a little awe, instead of mischief. Rather than finding ways to circumnavigate Fearless Leader, Puppy is busily soaking up new sights, sounds, smells and sensations.

Lena and Emmy at a children's museum in West Virginia. Emmy says, "Cool doghouse!"
Family vacations with a guide dog in training can be lots of fun for everyone.

As a puppy raiser, traveling with my turbulent teen puppy can be a little challenging, but it is also a terrific training opportunity and ultimately very rewarding! In fact I would say that traveling with teen puppies is one of my best puppy raiser strategies for getting those turbulent teen-pups back on track, for forging stronger bonds and strengthening your team of two. By the time we get back home, I can see a world of difference in Teen-Pup. He is more mature, dare I say - grown-up? Broadening his horizons has made him a pup-of-the-world. That all adds up to great stuff for his future partner, yes!
Emmy explores a Pacific tide pool.

1 comment:

  1. Yes! I love this post! It is amazing how amazing Dante is when we travel because he isn't bored. Most of the trouble he gets into is because he is so darn smart and gets bored too easily. It is such a balancing act to keep his mind working but also making sure he is able to just settle for a while.