Podcast #16: Regression and rebellion: what to expect when your dog hits the terrible teens, with Antonella Marsicano

Written by Napo HQ
24th Mar 2023
25 mins listen
Raising a puppy can be challenging, and just when you think you’ve cracked the housetraining and recall… It goes out the window. You might even worry you’ve done something wrong! However, your puppy might be in regression, which can feel like the terrible teens for dogs.
We’re joined by clinical animal behaviourist and CEO of the Animal Wellbeing Centre, Antonella Marsicano, who will explain what regression is, what to expect from an adolescent dog, and how to continue your dog’s training as they get older.

This episode of The Pet Perspective covers:

  • What to expect from an adolescent dog
  • What is regression?
  • How your own behaviour influences your dog’s training
  • Understand what’s going on in your dog’s head and why they might be “naughty”
  • How to find the reward that’s guaranteed to get your dog’s attention

Episode highlights

04:18, Antonella Marsicano

“When you are a baby or you are a toddler, you’re very dependent on your parents so you’re going to have a puppy that isn’t going to go too far away from you. So you don’t need to focus on recall, you take it for granted. And then comes adolescence, then comes puberty, when, yes, they take more risks, they become more social, they want to be with their own species and that's when you can kiss goodbye to your recall. Potentially it’s because you didn’t have the recall from a puppy, your puppy was just next to you, you didn’t really train that.”

07:06, Antonella Marsicano

“So when you see adolescents that are unruly, and people may label them as being naughty, that they know better. They actually can’t regulate themselves. It’s something physiological. They’re not trying to be naughty.”

08:54, Antonella Marsicano

“If from the start we don't put those boundaries in with positive reinforcement and teach the dog what we are expecting the dog to do, then it becomes unfair to expect an adolescent to know what to do. They’ve never been to primary school and you are expecting them to be the the best student in high school.”

11:07, Antonella Marsicano

“Definitely look for professional help to know how to do the training properly. And by professional help, I say a trainer or a behaviourist that is certified or a member of certain organisations, which they follow proper ethics. And trainers that use positive reinforcement.”

12:06, Antonella Marsicano

“Just think about what you want. Because if a client comes to me and says “I don't want my dog to jump” the dog has already jumped, I can't undo that. But if you tell me what you want your dog to do instead, so "instead of jumping I want my dog to have their four paws on the ground", now we can focus on that and now we can teach the dog what you expect.”

15:25, Antonella Marsicano

“You need to understand the individual you have in front of you. Because every dog is going to be an individual, and every dog is going to have different needs.”

19:31, Antonella Marsicano

“If the clients have potentially rewarded with food, and with treats that we perceive as being very high value because its organic, free range, whatever brand that cost a lot of money. But you might have been giving that treat for the last 3 years so it loses its value. And your dogs potentially prefer fox poo than your treats!”

21:08, Antonella Marsicano

“I would do a lot of mental stimulation activities. What I mean by that is scent work, food puzzles… Positive reinforcement training. I would start training tricks for the fun of it. Like when you go to school if you have a good teacher, and you have reinforced, you’d love going back and learning more.”

21:46, Antonella Marsicano

“Understand your dog. Listen to your dog's body language. Understand the dog that you have in front of you."

23:31, Antonella Marsicano

“I would definitely use food. However, I agree that’s not the only reinforcement. A reward can be access to something, a reward can be play, a reward can be attention. Really it’s what the dog wants to have.”

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