Q: I have a 10-month-old Labrador. He used to be very gentle and obedient until six months of age but has since become hyperactive and does not listen unless forced to. My family and I think he is too pampered. What should I do?

Most owners would have gotten their canine companions at eight weeks of age or older.  From eight to 16 weeks onwards, your puppy would have developed a general sense of response and reaction.  Henceforth, you can begin to further develop its character through more interaction.  Socialisation can be intensified and by doing so, you are also forming your puppy’s behaviour towards various situations and people that is in line with how you would expect it to behave.  Since puppies have been exposed to multiple situations, it becomes imperative that they are guided on how to behave during situations.  As a pack leader, your responses and interaction has to be structured and consistent.  When training, you are teaching your puppy to adapt and cope within its immediate environment.  Avoid harsh methods or intimidation as fear imprints tend to be longer lasting and highly sensitive.

From 17 weeks to eight months of age, puberty sets in and your puppy is now a teenager.  Experiencing physiological changes makes it stronger and faster.  As it grows, new learnings occur.  This comes from exploring its own strengths, capabilities and limits amongst its immediate environment and members of the pack.  Thus, the pecking order within the pack begins to form or shift.  Discipline becomes imperative and enrolment in obedience classes is essential for both owners and dogs to truly understand what motivates your canine companion to cooperate with you.

Until maturity at two years of age, supervision is recommended.  Where you are unable to supervise, boundaries and limitations needs to be in place.  Look into setting up a daily routine.  How often does it go for walks or exercise? What quantity of energy boosting food are you feeding it?  Do you have the appropriate toys to keep it occupied?  Always avoid harsh methods or confrontation as this inevitably encourages aggression.  Forming your canine behaviour is a combination of three aspects; Management, Obedience and understanding Behaviour.  When you lack in any one of them, you are only 60 percent effective of what you desire to achieve.  Consult your local behavioral therapist to find harmony and balance with your canine companion.