unruly adolescentI fell in love (again)! This time it was with 8-month-old black Labrador Peppa.

Her increasingly demanding attention-seeking behaviour was becoming potentially dangerous for their six year old daughter.

Behaviour worsens in the evening

It tends to be worse in the evening – as it often seems to be with many young dogs. There is a lot of jumping up in general, but when the little girl sits down to do her homework or watch TV and mum is trying to cook tea, the battle commences. Peppa flies all over the child if not closely controlled. By the time dad has come home and the adults sit down in the evening for some peace and quiet. The unruly adolescent really gets stuck in.

She starts with climbing on them whereupon she is told to get down and pushed off. Commands make her defiant (she is a teenager!). Soon this escalates to grabbing clothes, barking for attention, air snapping and even nipping.

It goes on and on until they get so exasperated they shout at her. She is getting their undivided attention now!

Understandably they are only too pleased when she is quiet so when she’s being good they leave her alone. That way the unruly adolescent learns that the best attention happens when she is annoying. She isn’t shown an acceptable alternative way to get their attention.

She needs more planned interaction and stimulation

It is a bit like goalkeeper fielding all the balls. Instead of waiting for Peppa to instigate something and responding to her, they need to behave more like forwards. They need to instigate attention at times to suit them and they need to teach her alternatives incompatible with her demanding  behaviour.

When they simply want peace, they will first find a bit of time for Peppa. They can also give her things to chew and to do.

I soon taught her, instead of jumping on us, to sit and then lie down instead. Each time the urge came to demand attention by jumping she was redirected to lying down whereupon she was, of course, rewarded with attention and food. Soon she was doing this of her own accord.

We then added ‘stay’ which will be gradually increased over time. She liked that game! I also taught her the ‘touch’ trick which she learnt in just a few minutes. She was literally lapping it up and eager to learn. The unruly adolescent when bored is a very clever dog with a brain that is not sufficiently exercised.

One thing that may be adding to the problem is that she’s not fed until the evening, so it’s possible the late food is giving her an energy rush of calories.

So, on one hand Peppa needs to learn self-control and to understand that good things happen when her feet are on the floor and she’s polite. On the other hand she needs a vacuum in her life filled with some constructive activity.