Lying curled at my feet as I write this with that innate ability as he stares into my eyes to bare his soul is my friend and companion Drifter. Wherever I am so is he, if he is tired he lays on my foot to sleep as he has learnt I cannot go anywhere without it. If he is worried he comes back and sits by my side leaning against my leg with one ear up and one ear curled down. Life must be a little difficult for him, on the one hand having developed this close relationship and at the same time having that need to develop an independent aspect to life that his natural development dictates.
Drifter has come through the juvenile stage of development and it is evident from his behaviour that he is now entering the adolescence phase of growing up. His environmental awareness has continued to develop but at the same time he has stayed close by and his independent exploration has remained within familiar environments.
We have continued to introduce him to new experiences but have noticed in the last couple of weeks he has become wary of some encounters particularly some unfamiliar dogs but at the same time can be overconfident with others. We have noticed that he will vocalise towards dogs that stare at him and his body language would suggest he can be anxious towards these encounters. In these situations I guide him gently away to increase the distance and focus him onto me. Those dogs he has a positive reaction to with the owners permission I allow to meet. I check all the time for changes in body language that may suggest there could be tears before bedtime. If Drifter becomes over aroused and starts jumping at the other dog I move him away and when he becomes calmer let him interact again. He is already learning that jumping over the other dog or pawing them inappropriately means he is moved away.
He enjoys his training and his basic obedience is good. Over the last couple of weeks with him perhaps becoming less reliant on us he does become more easily distracted but this is probably more to do with adolescent independence than the quality of training, well we like to think so!! We do expect the next period to be the most difficult but with keeping his mind occupied with new learning experiences we should get through this period reasonably unscathed.
We have noticed in the last couple of weeks that he has become worried at twilight and after dark particularly to the flickering lights of a camp fire or shadows. I have started to play with him and reward at this time of day and things are much improved in familiar environments and we are now going to adopt the same approach in umfamiliar environments. Learning with Drifter often has me question some of my understanding of puppy development. The behaviours we observe suggest Drifter is entering the second fear/anxiety stage of his development and it is less about adolescence. Is his failure to respond to commands at times caused more by him being uncomfortable and worried about the environment that they occur in than the independence of adolescence?? These observations have taken place at eight months.