Does my dog need something more from us, or is it just a phase?

This is a place to gain some understanding of dog behavior and to assist people in training their dogs and dealing with common behavior problems, regardless of the method(s) used. This can cover the spectrum from non-aversive to traditional methods of dog training. There are many ways to train a dog. Please avoid aggressive responses, and counter ideas and opinions with which you don't agree with friendly and helpful advice. Please refrain from submitting posts that promote off-topic discussions. Keep in mind that you may be receiving advice from other dog owners and lovers... not professionals. If you have a major problem, always seek the advice of a trainer or behaviorist!

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Only thing- better than- friends is food.
Barked: Sun Jul 1, '12 10:35pm PST 
My golden retreiver is just over two. Our last trainer warned us about 'the two year old phase,' and said not to worry or get mad at Leo for misbehaving a bit. His behaviour is very similar to his younger misbehaviour, but sometimes seems like he's trying to get attention. I've been wondering if he has a need that's not being met.

He gets 20-45 minutes of exercize on average, occasionally more. It's usually walking on leash, running off leash, and playing some fetch in the yard. sometimes he also goes swimming or to the dog park.

It also might be training. He gets about 15 minutes per day, with about two days doubled that. Usually it's spread out in 2 or 3 sessions, since a few different people do it.

He always acts out just after dinner, (not nessacaily just after being fed,) and it can last anywhere from 5 minutes to twenty. I've seen no consistant difference when he gets more or less training or exercize. He's also irrited by itchy skin, and probably mild stomaches quite often. (Environmental and food allergies, and ichthyosis- we're working with our vet to help those symptoms, but it's slow going.)

When he acts out, I'm stern with him, and very clearly remind him of the boundaries. I don't get anrgy with thim though, and I try to switch his attention to something else, like from a pillow to one of his toys. Is that the right way to handle this? When I try playing fetch or something, he gets even crazier, so I avoid that.

Leo is a smart, energetic, young boy. Does he need something we're not providing him, or is it just a case of the terrible twos? Has anyone gone through anything similar?

too old to eat- any more KD
Barked: Sun Jul 1, '12 11:03pm PST 
I would start by doubling his exercise. My 3 year old gsd gets at least an hour, usually two daily. Maybe get him into some dog sport? Agility, frisbee, nosework...something that challenges him & tires his mind and his body. Up your training sessions. Work on sits, downs, stays during commercial breaks while you watch tv. It honestly sounds like a bored golden who needs something to do.

Do you even- lift?
Barked: Sun Jul 1, '12 11:39pm PST 
Totally agree with Squ'mey on the exercise. Less than an hour a day for a two year old Golden is not going to be enough, and that's probably why he's acting out. If you have regular access to the swimming, I'd do that as often as possible, great exercise, very tiring, and easy on the joints.

Try doing a training session right before feeding him. That way he'll be hungry and focused for the treats, and a little more tired by the time he gets dinner. Make sure you're keeping the training interesting. Teach new things frequently so it doesn't become a boring routine. You could get a treat dispensing toy to feed him his dinner from so he gets some exercise and mental stimulation that way.

If he enjoys fetch, don't avoid it, use it to tire him out (retrieving in the water is great fun too). You can even incorporate some obedience into fetching to help focus him a bit. Ask for some behaviors and when he complies, the reward is getting to retrieve the toy. Sports are also a great idea for both mental and physical exercise, and for bonding.


Only thing- better than- friends is food.
Barked: Sun Jul 1, '12 11:56pm PST 
Starting tomorrow, he'll get an hour or more of exercize everyday, and I'll starting teaching him more intersting things. I'll try agaility again- we gave up on that when he was yonger and didn't have to basic obidience down, but I think it's past time to try it again.

I don't really watch tv, so I commoercial breaks won't happen, but I will train him bfore his meals and have longer trining sessions with him. Now that it's summer, we'll probably going swimming more often, a few times week atleast. Leo loves fetching stuff in the water. I'll start putting some food in a kong toy too.

I only avoid fetch when he's acting crazy, as it amps him up and he gets even crazier. When he's behaving normally, I love to play fetch with him. It's great fun for both of us. Thanks for your quick responses guys, Leo and I both appreciate them. Tomorrow he's going to be a very tired dog!

I dig in mud- puddles!
Barked: Mon Jul 2, '12 12:24am PST 
Is the bratty behaviour only happening immediately following mealtimes?

If so, I'm not sure that exercise will solve it (although I do agree that upping his exercise to 1hr+ per day is a good thing).

I have heard of dogs that get exceptionally bratty after they eat. (Mine is one of them.)

It doesn't seem to matter how much exercise Rexy has had or what we have done that day. Once she has been fed it's like a little switch seems to go off and it's brat time. She sasses me, mock-lunges at the cats and is generally just a pain.

I manage it by feeding her before we all go to bed. So it's eat, potty break, then straight to bed. If I end up feeding her earlier, then I will have her lie on her bed or crate her until the brattiness passes.

One theory I have heard is that there is a rush of hormones once the stomach is full and for some dogs that ccomes out as obnoxious behaviour...
Czarka, CGC- UJJ

Why walk when- you can run?
Barked: Mon Jul 2, '12 8:39am PST 
Energy levels vary... we're about 2 1/2 hrs in daily walks and then formal training 2-3 times per week. We throw in a bit of dock jumping each week... and then some training at home (mostly working on weaves, and informal retrieving, and a bit of ob tossed in with just following me around to 'help' in the yard). Charka is a fairly high activity girl and this keeps her pretty happy... But, YOUR results will vary. After meals? Yes... but I believe I telegraph that we almost always will do something after a meal. Is she restless? Weelllll... yes, but 5 y.o., so she reads me too to see if I'm thinking about something fun. Else, pretty good off switch.

The Muddy- Princess
Barked: Mon Jul 2, '12 9:11am PST 
AHHHHH the evening crazies. It seems to be a Golden thing. I agree that more exercise is a good thing, my girl at almost eight is a machine although Selli can deal with just an hour of exercise on these really hot days. Maybe you can give your boy his food in a treat releasing toy so he needs to spend more time eating. Or take him for a walk in the evening (are you in the US?) when he is at his crazy time. Maybe find him a friend he can play with? I am a firm believer that dogs NEED to get their YaYas out by being crazy in an appropriate way rather than stifling it.

Only thing- better than- friends is food.
Barked: Mon Jul 2, '12 4:40pm PST 
Rexy, it is after I feed him his dinner, but I don't notice it after other meals. His dinner is always home-made, as opposed to his breakfast and lunch which consist of dog food. His dinner is always bigger than the other two meals, since it's not dried, so maybe i should feed it to him in two parts? If Leo had dinner just before bed, he'd just come upstairs and bug someone. (We stopped crating him at night for a few different reasons.)

Selli, do you know of other goldens with the evening crazies? He does have a few dog friends in the area, but they're all busy and none could meet him after dinner more than a few times a month. I'll try playing soccer with him right after he's eaten in the backyard, and see if he's behaving well enough to continue doing that. We live in South-Western Canada.

Edited by author Mon Jul 2, '12 4:41pm PST


Barked: Tue Jul 3, '12 11:13am PST 
When you say home-made what does that entail? Raw, home cooked, people food? Could this be a carb or sugar overload manifesting?

I'm also curious why you're feeding a 2 year old dog three times a day?

Upping what you're offering him exercise wise should help tremendously. I don't know of any 2 year old Golden that doesn't need at least double to triple that. I'd bet you'll see instant results there.

Instead of avoiding retrieving when he's acting up work those times especially hard. Avoiding his drive when he's obviously oozing it is counterproductive to regaining control over his attitude. When a retriever is acting over the top it's actually the absolute best way to regain their focus no matter where you're at or what he's doing. Require him to keep hold of his brain regardless of what's going on around him. If you signal him the game is about to begin he should snap to attention and right out of any stupidity he might be displaying ready to perform as instructed. You'll never be able to harness his drive if you aren't willing to work him when he's over threshold. Most REAL retriever drive dances back and forth across the line of over threshold regularly. In that sense he sounds very normal, I'd venture to say his breeding is at least somewhat respectable in that regard.

I'd also institute NILIF if you're not doing so already, especially in the evenings. Perhaps he's learned to get your goat at this time of day and it's become almost habit. Nip it unwaveringly so, but with kindness and patience. He doesn't so much as move without earning the right to, but keep calm and let him know any responses to the contrary won't earn him any sort of attention. Sounds harsh but I'd bet he learns to love that interaction and look for it to garner more praise. Adolescent retrievers ADORE feedback. They want to know every little thing they do right and every little thing they do wrong. I rarely even acknowledge wrong but I'll gush buckets over any good choices my boys make.
Maci & Harley & Jigar

Golden butts
Barked: Tue Jul 3, '12 11:32am PST 
Agree with others - more exercise, more NILF/self control exercises. With Maci I started more mental exercise because doing anything like fetch would put her over the top and we would be out there for days.

If things were too much still even after exercise, etc - a nap after supper in the crate happened. Most times she crashed quickly.
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