Poodle Terrible Twos: Dog Behavior Changes and Solutions

The terrible twos

The terrible twos. It's something we've all heard of, and when we hear it we envision these little human monsters, full of energy, cutely terrorizing our homes. But honestly for me, I love kids at two-- they're so darn cute and they're these little miniature humans who wear tiny versions of big people clothes. And they start saying the really cute stuff like, "I love you". And idk, it's always been an adorable stage in my personal experience.

Then I had a dog... of the poodle variety, and when he turned two it seemed like something just changed in him. He got all extra spunky and rambunctious, not in the cute "awww, he's doing tricks I didn't even teach him" way, it was in the "wait, he's being disobedient right now" way.

Having a poodle is pretty damn awesome, depending on their personality you barely have to "train" them. You can talk to them and they start picking up on stuff, they really are highly intelligent. And I must say, I totally lacked off after a couple months, I know I shouldn't have, but he was just so darn obedient and awesome and smart and cute that I, I, I... I just didn't really "need" to train him anymore.

I may look like a canine gentleman and where a bow-tie everyday, but I  began terrorizing my mom a few days after this photo was taken

Basically what I'm saying is that at age two, my sweet little obedient kid was getting defiant and low key "cray", lol. I didn't know where it was coming from, I usually google this type stuff, but I made my own conclusions and solutions this go round. After talking to a few other dog parents I learned that this behavior was common.

- At around age two dogs are growing into their own. And this may result in them retesting some boundaries. It may be earlier or later for some dogs, but for Hux it was literally in the age two range.

I live in a very dog friendly area, and mentioned this to another dog parent who lives in the condos across the street. He told me it'd get better around age five or so. Ummm, did he just say five?? Who has yearsss to wait for an out of control dog to calm down... I refused to believe this. I have a poodle after all, they're smarter than the rest... right???

Some of the specific Dog / Canine"Terrible Two" behavior changes:
- Snappiness
- Destructive
- Eating random things
- Barking

In this same time period I also started a new schedule in which I would leave in the mornings and come back in the evening. Huxtable had been used to having a mostly stay at home mom, so I believe this also played a role in his behavior change. (I'll also write a post on this later)

Easy to say I had to find a solution and had to find one quick. I found out that while at home alone Huxtable had been roaming the home, eating random things (like hair from a comb that may have fallen on the floor). This all resulted in him throwing up bile. In the past I could leave him home, and I would return to him virtually in the same place, well, not anymore... so my solution for this was crating him. I purchased, this Pet Crate , and began to use it. Crating him while I was out, and when I slept at night. He whined and fought it of course, but he eventually gave in since his food and water was in there (and I would sneak treats in there from time to time). This was dealing with his off eating behavior problem. So now what about the terrible twos behavior change?

I just had to "retrain" him. Well, not really retrain, but I just had to be stern on the rules. Rules that I had become very lenient and lax with. When he did something wrong, it was quickly met with stern "no's" and time outs. That in combination with the crating and praising him when he did things right got him back on track. It took a lot of patience, but time flies these days... In October I had a little monster on my hands, now its December and he's pretty much back to being the perfect poodle I know and love.

So in conclusion, The Solution to Canine Terrible Twos:

- Retrain them. You may have to go back to the basics and treat them like puppies, but it's well worth it. The quicker you do it the better. Just be firm with your rules and boundaries.

- Crate (if you don't already). I originally began to crate for one reason (him eating random things), but I strongly believe this helped in reigning in his wild terrible two behavior.

- Patience and positive reinforcements. Sometimes as a canine parent it's hard to be patient, especially when you already spent time training, but just like with human kids, dogs go through phases and we have to love them through it.

I should also mention Huxtable hasn't been spaded/neutered yet, so with his behavior change I assumed that could be the reason. Huxtable has never, never been a snappy dog, so I figured it might just be time for him to well, be without balls, lol. But I'm glad I was patient. These days I'm learning that patience is the answer to many, many situations. 

Every breed of dog is a little different. My pooch had only gotten better with age-- more dependable, more reliable... until age two, but in less than two months he's pretty much back to himself. The lesson I've learned from this is to continue to train, even after they've "got it". I won't know from personal experience until later down the line, but "training" to some degree will probably have to continue until age three or so. I do think or assume that if you put in a lot of training that first year, you can relax sooner.

I'll do an update of his behavior later, this posting could be premature, but I'm being positive and I think things are only gonna get better from here. 

Feel free to share your experiences below...
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