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Thread: Regressing!!!

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2006


    Lizzie, 6 months, seems to be regressing back to her naughtiness. The last few days she has started stealing the kids toys. Today when they were playing football in the garden she was jumping up and nipping them, she hasn't done that for months! I tried squirting her with the water gun and telling her off (which always worked) but she ignored me, so I grabbed her by the collar to put her in the crate for time out and she bit me!! I was so shocked she has never done this before. She is teething and we are finding blood on her toys etc, we are giving her ice etc to chew on. I thought we were over this sort of behaviour, any advice would be appreciated.

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2006

    DefaultRe: Regressing!!!

    Welcome to the teenage period.*

    It's very typical for dogs this age to regress/forget everything they know/test boundaries...much like human teenagers. ;D* Be consistant, go back to treating her like a brand new puppy, practice NILIF, and things will come back together in a few months.

    Here is a good article explaining what you are and will be going thru:

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2006

    DefaultRe: Regressing!!!

    Thanks, rottnlabs.. I checked out the article and it was really helpful, the whole website seems very interesting, I didn't realise we were getting to the teens already!!!!

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  6. #4
    Bob Pr. is offline Senior Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Lawrence (ex-Topeka), KS

    DefaultRe: Regressing!!!

    The post below is adapted from two longer posts I'd made on a previous Just Labs BB.

    My Puff (YF; AKC, field line; 63 lbs; dob: 8-'01) started going through those so called "teen age" behaviors at around 5 or 6 months.

    We walk every morning in a nature preserve for an hour, during Puff's first year or so with a 50' long line/check cord for some control offleash.

    I noticed periodically that commands that Puff had apparently very well-learned would not be obeyed.

    That exasperated me at first but the solution I quickly adopted was to go to a NiFiL/NFL ("Nothing in Life is Free"/"No Free Luinch") feeding schedule.*

    With this, all of Puff's meals came a bite at a time from my hand and she had to obey a command to earn each bite -- sit, stand, down, come, leave it, etc.* We'd repeat this for a couple days until I felt that she had them firmly mastered.

    Then, on our walks, we had obedience reigning again for a month or so.* Then we'd go through periods of typically about 2 days in which she'd seem to lose it again.* One period even lasted 5 days, when she was about 11 months old.

    I observed Puff very closely and came to a pretty firm belief that it wasn't "teenage rebellion" at all but a partial loss of learning of her old commands.* She just didn't have the old learning accessible and I saw no return of it even after the "phases" were over.

    I suspect that the phases are just the behavioral facet of some underlying neuro-physiological changes that take place during normal development. While it isn't anywhere near as drastic as the metamorphoses that, say, butterflies go through in their development (in which all the internal organs and other stuff dissolves and the cells become reorganized intof new systems as the creature goes from one life form to another) -- BUT it's something kind of remotely like that, but on a much more minor scale.

    While we might say a dog reaches a "plateau", that implies a levelling off. But what I've seen is an actual loss or sacrifice of some old, valued responses (the past learning that functions to give food). That's why the metamorphosis analogy comes to mind.

    There are some sound scientific grounds for thinking this.* We know there is state dependent learning -- learning that takes place under the influence of drugs often suffers when the drug is withdrawn (and vice-versa). The first 4-18 months of a dog's life has a great deal of internal changes going on -- some hormones come on line, others go off, new neurons and neural centers are being developed.

    There are a couple other good reasons for rejecting the popular notion of a "teenage rebellion" phase.*

    One is "Occam's Razor" or, as it's used in comparative psychology, "Lloyd Morgan's Canon" which rephrases it as "In no case can a higher mental process be used to describe a behavior when a lower one will suffice."

    "Teenage rebellion" in humans occurs in many cultures and is very common.

    But I doubt that the "terrible teens" is really the best, most fitting analogy for Labs.. It certainly "kind of" fits. But I'm not aware of any sacrifices of past learning that take place in human adolescent development during their teen phase.* On the psychological side, teenage angst, problems in teen years between parent and child are really healthy.

    Having those problems prepare both parent and child for separation. The child begins saying (and behaving), more and more like, "Sheesh! Will I ever be glad to get away from this place"! And the parents, too, begin thinking "Oh, Lord, let me count the days! I can hardly wait!" and saying, "Please! We'll be glad to help you pack!" The young man or young woman is happy to get away from the nest and the parents are happy to see them go. (See the comic strip "Zits!" for examples.)

    Those problems help make the launching into adulthood possible and tolerable for all parties.

    Think what a very different situation we'd hae if most teens
    were saying, "Golly! What wise and marvellous parents and what a great family! I don't ever want to leave them!" And if parents were also thinking very parallel thoughts!?!

    So the type of adolescent problem with parents possibly has
    a much different underlying cause and may serve a much
    different purpose than the troubles between a dog and its trainer during the young dog's developmental phase.

    As Lloyd Morgan's Canon/Occam's Razor says, In no case may we interpret an action as the outcome of the exercise of a higher mental faculty, if it can be interpreted as the exercise of one which stands lower in the psychological scale.


    PS -- I just read the article rottnlabs linked. I agree with most of it. My major disagreement is her saying that previous learning is not really lost. Obviously, I think muich of it is.
    Puff [YF, AKC field line (from competing HT/FT breeder) 62 lbs, dob: 8-'01]

    Bess [BF, AKC bench line (from competing show breeder) 55 lbs., 1967-1981] "Poor Bess, the Wonder Dog":


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