Bring a hat next week

This week we covered:
Define your commands – one for come
How do I sound?
Your dogs name is not a command.
Bite inhibition – cry & go away works best.
When to call the vet – if in doubt call the vet. Diarrhea more than 2 times in a day or 2 days in a row. Vomiting with diarrhea. If the puppy is lethargic. If the puppy stops eating or drinking.
Winter & summer protection

Your homework is:
Define your commands so that everyone in the house is using the same word and hand signal with each command. Be sure the commands to not rhyme with each other or your dogs name. Come up with a happy phrase 2 or more words for your recall. Come will not work. It will at some point in the dogs life become useless because of how we use the word.
Practice how you sound. Don’t be a Drill Sergeant, don’t be unsure. Be confident, I believe in me, I believe in you we can do this.

The Ten Most Common Mistakes Made With Puppies

1. Using punishment to house train a puppy.
Punishment is unnecessary and can make training more difficult. There is a difference between house breaking and house training.
2. Not giving a puppy enough socialization and/or the right kind of socialization
Puppies need pleasant experiences with people, children, other animals and new places, objects and things. Lack of socialization can create serious fears later in life.
3. Crating the puppy too much
Crates or kennels can help with house training but too much crating interferes with proper socialization.
4. Not acclimating puppy to new places, things and sounds
All this is part of socialization as well. The better the experiences when young, the better adjusted the dog as an adult.
5. Not getting puppy used to being handled and held in a gentle way
This is also a part of proper socialization. Puppies that were gently handled have fewer problems with handling as adults.
6. Not rewarding good behavior often enough
We take good behavior for granted and rarely reward it. The more you reward the behavior you want, the more likely you are to see it later.
7. Not taking a positive, proactive approach to preventing problems
It is far easier to prevent behavior problems in our dogs than to fix them. Take the time to teach appropriate behavior and to socialize and you can prevent many problems.
8. Not meeting the puppy’s behavioral needs
Puppies need social contact, mental stimulation and exercise. Not providing these things can lead to behavior problems.
9. Punishing too often and in the wrong way
Punishment should not be your first step for dealing with inappropriate behavior, it should be your last. Learn how to use punishment correctly when you do need to use it.
10. Not managing the environment to prevent behavior problems from occurring
Many behavior problems can be prevented or managed by simply changing the environment to make the unwanted behavior more difficult. Picking up your shoes can prevent them from being chewed.


Establish a Routine

  • Take your dog out at the same times every day. For example, first thing in the morning, every time he wakes up, when you arrive home from work, right after eating and before you go to bed. If he is very young, you may have to get up during the night. A sort of rule of thumb is that a puppy can hold urine for is- their age plus 3-4 weeks. So if you have a 3 month old puppy, he can learn to hold his urine for about 3 ½ to 4 hours. Remember this is just a vague guideline. The time is shorter for small breeds.
  • Praise your dog every time he eliminates outdoors. You can give him a treat. You must praise him during the elimination and give him a treat immediately after he has finished and not wait until after he comes back inside the house. This step is vital, because rewarding your dog for eliminating outdoors is the only way he will know that is what you want him to go. Once he is in the house or investigating other things, he will associate the praise with coming in or investigating. Your dog has a very short attention span when it comes to rewarding for behavior. Give the praise within 1-2 seconds.
  • Choose a location not too far from the door to be the bathroom spot. Always take your dog
    on leash directly to the bathroom spot. Take him for a walk or play with him only after he has eliminated. If you clean up an accident in the house, leave the soiled paper towels or poop in
    the bathroom spot outdoors. The smell will help your dog recognize the area as the place where he is
    supposed to eliminate. Take him to the same area every time.
  • When you take him out, begin to say a word or phrase like “go potty,” (make sure the phrase does not rhyme with his name or any other commands) using your command tone of voice. (Not mean or aggressive, but a tone that lets him know you believe he can do it.) Once he starts to squat, start a praising tone and use it with your word or phrase… “Good boy go potty”. Continue to praise until he comes to you and then give him a treat. The continual praise creates a “bridge” between the behavior and reward so that he clearly understands what you are praising him for. Just a bit of encouragement, you will want to pull your hair out from saying go potty. It will be worth it. You have to say it over and over and over the whole time you are out until your dog starts to squat. Don’t give the command “go potty” in a frustrated, bored, angry or other negative tone because this will cause your pheromones to change and the dog will sense it. Sound encouraging. Don’t give the command then wait 10 or 20 seconds to give it again. You are trying to clarify communication. By repeating the command over and over, your dog will know he has not yet met your request. By beginning praise right away when he squats and continuing until he is finished and has come to you for his treat he will know without a doubt that go potty means eliminate bowels or bladder or both. Be very patient.
    A good way to practice commands is in front of the mirror. Look and sound like you do when you talk to your dog; pretend you are talking to your dog. Does the person in the mirror emit confidence? Do they sound like a whining puppy? Do they sound and look somewhat mean? Your goal is to sound and look like “I have confidence in you that you can do this – I am a person you can trust”.
    I have many of my clients try this test to see how clearly they have communicated a clear definition of a command. I like to use “sit”. The definition is fanny on the floor both front feet on the floor. If your dog clearly understands your definition of sit then he will obey the command sit from a lying down almost asleep position. Try it when you see your dog lying relaxed, just look in his direction and say sit. Do not say his name first; just say sit. Did he get up and sit? Yes? Then he clearly understands the definition of sit. NO? He does not know the definition of sit.
    Clarifying communication takes consistency, consistency, consistency and lot of patients. This is why I say to repeat the “go potty” command non-stop until the dog starts to squat. If you stop saying go potty when he looks at the bush then that must be the definition- look at the bush. Now you stopped giving the command when I sniffed the ground – that must be the definition-sniff the ground. NOW you stopped saying it when I was thinking about playing. Stupid human you are too confusing I am just going to ignore you. That is what your dog will think if you are not consistent.
  • Feeding your dog on a set schedule twice a day, will help make his elimination more
    regular. Very young puppies need to be fed 3 times a day. Check with your veterinarian if you are not sure how often you should feed your dog. If you dog is getting up during the night, stop food and water earlier. Try picking up the water bowl say around 7:00 p.m. If that doesn’t work, try 6:30 and so on. If it is very hot, do not let your dog get dehydrated. Make sure he has had a drink before you pick up his water bowl. Adult dogs should be feed twice a day. I recommend you do not leave food down. Instead teach the dog to eat when you set the bowl of food down, and then pick it up in about 10 minutes. Feel free to email me or contact me if you have further questions about feeding twice a day.
    The same will work with feeding. I have had clients that needed to feed the 2nd or dinner meal at around 3:00 p.m. so that the dog would not have to get up for bowel movements. Adjust the feeding time if you need to. The methods described in this instruction sheet should enable you to train your dogs’ bowel habits to fit your schedule. To ensure that, train your dog to have his bowel movements right after he eats. To accomplish this as soon as he is finished eating take him out to his bathroom spot on leash and start giving him your “go potty” command.
    Do not give your dog an opportunity to soil in the house. He should be watched at all times when he is indoors. Use baby gates, to keep him in the room where you are. Watch for signs that he needs to eliminate, like sniffing around, whimpering, whining, barking or circling. If you see these signs, immediately take him outside on a leash to his bathroom spot, give the command. If he eliminates, praise him lavishly and reward him with a treat.


When you are unable to watch your dog closely, he should be confined to an area small enough that he will not want to eliminate there. It should be big enough for him to comfortably stand, lie down and turn around in. This could be a bathroom or laundry room blocked off with boxes or baby gates. He should not spend more than 1-2 hours in confinement, (less time if he is younger). Keeping your dog crated for more than and hour or so can lead to other psychological and behavioral problem. When you let him out, take him directly to his bathroom spot and praise him when he eliminates.
If your young dog or new dog has too much run of the house, it will make training harder. I always recommend gating to a room such as the kitchen or a smaller room like the bathroom, if your dog is still eliminating when gated to a larger room such as the kitchen. When your dog has gone 2 weeks without eliminating in the bathroom, try a larger room such as the kitchen. When he has gone 2 week without eliminating in the kitchen size room, then try letting him be in maybe two rooms or perhaps just the downstairs if you house is not large. When your dog has gone 2 weeks with freedom in two rooms or the down stairs and has now gone 4-6 weeks without any accidents in the house, your dog is most likely housetrained and you can try letting him have the run of the house.

Most dogs, at some point, will have an accident in the house. You should expect this, as it is a normal part of your dog’s adjustment to his new home.

  • If you catch your dog in the act of eliminating in the house, do something to interrupt him like
    making a startling noise like clapping your hands (be careful not to scare him). Immediately take him to his bathroom spot, say “go potty,” praise him, and give him a treat if he finishes eliminating there.
  • Do not punish your dog for eliminating in the house. If you find a soiled area, it is too late to
    give a correction. Do nothing but clean it up. Rubbing your dog’s nose in it, taking him to
    the spot and scolding him, or any other type of punishment, will only make him afraid of you or
    afraid to eliminate in your presence. Animals do not understand punishment after the fact,
    even if it is only seconds later. Punishment will do more harm than good.
  • Cleaning the soiled area is very important because dogs are highly motivated to continue
    soiling in areas that smell like urine or feces. Do not let him watch you clean it up. This is what his mom did in the “den” and he will think he can continue to eliminate in his new den because you will clean it up.

Be careful that your dog does not have a painful or fearful experience during the potty training. Young dogs do not have winter coats. It can be painful to squat in snow. It can be scary during thunderstorms and fireworks. If you have a very young dog, and it is winter keep an area cleaned off where he can potty without having the snow and ice touch his bottom. If it is thundering or there are fireworks, try to make the trip out quick. If he acts scared, ignore it. Don’t baby talk to him; act as if that noise is normal. Hot surfaces such as tarmac or cement can also be painful to feet, so be aware that you are not taking the puppy to a painful area.

If you use papers or puppy pads, your puppy will learn to go in the house. Even very young or very small puppies should be taught to go outside only. You can train your dog to go to a specific place in the house instead of outside, but I do not recommend it because of territorial marking behaviors that could develop and become a problem.

Other Types of Houses-soiling Problems
If you have consistently followed the housetraining procedures and your dog continues to eliminate in the house, there may be another reason for his behavior.

  • Medical Problems: House soiling can often be caused by physical problems such as a urinary
    tract infection or a parasite infection. Check with your veterinarian to rule out any possibility of
    disease or illness.
  • Submissive/Excitement Urination: Some dogs, especially young ones, temporarily lose control
    of their bladders when they become excited or feel threatened. This usually occurs during
    greetings, intense play or when they are about to be punished (scared the pee out of me).
  • Territorial Urine-Marking: Dogs sometimes deposit urine or feces, usually in small amounts to
    scent-mark their territory. Both male and female dogs do this, and it most often occurs when
    they believe their territory has been invaded. Constant territorial marking can come from either insecurity or dominance. You may need the help of a professional to correct territorial marking. First, try making your dogs territory very small. Maybe 10 feet from the house and no more. It can be a daunting task to have a territory that is too large to protect. Keep walks to your yard only if your dog is marking a lot on walks.
    This could also happen if you have previously owned a dog or still have a dog that previously soiled in the house. You may need to either replace or professionally clean a carpet. You need to clean down to the wood with an enzymatic cleaner in order to get it clean enough so your dog cannot smell it.
  • Separation Anxiety. Dogs that become anxious when they are left alone may house soil as a
    result. Usually, there are other symptoms, such as destructive behavior or vocalization but not always. If you think your dog has separation anxiety he is suffering very much, please get help for both of you. There is a rare form of separation anxiety – I call it “out of sight separation anxiety” this can be very serious and even life threatening in young puppies. The symptoms are that every time a certain person or all family members leave the room the dog will poop and pee. If your puppy is pooping multiple times when left in a room seek professional help. I have worked with puppies that have been having 10 -15 bowel movements a day due to this form of separation anxiety. That takes a lot of energy and can begin to cause damage in the bowel as well as contribute to other health issues such as dehydration, IBS, Colitis to mention a few.
  • Fears or Phobias. When animals become frightened, they may lose control of their bladder
    and/or bowels. If your dog is afraid of loud noises, such as thunderstorms or fireworks, he may
    house soil when he is exposed to these. You may want to set up a tape recorder or video camera. The fears could be from street sweepers, mailmen, plows, garbage trucks, sirens or even stray animals coming in the yard. If your dog is eliminating out of fear, this requires the help of a specialist to help your dog build confidence in himself, trust in you, overcoming the fear, repairing the human/dog bond and clarifying the communication between dog and humans.
  • Surface Preferences. When a dog has been trained to eliminate on only one type of surface,
    such as newspapers or tile or cement, or has not been offered a variety of surfaces, such as being confined to a run with a concrete floor, a surface preference may develop. This can be difficult to change but is often managed by ensuring that their preferred substrate is unavailable indoors, but is available in an outdoor location. You can use baby gates, towels, blankets or rugs. I find that tarps work great to cover the desired surface. You will need to provide the desired surface out side. Say it is carpet. In that case, you would start with a piece of carpet depending on the size of your dog, say 4 foot by 4 foot. Every week cut ½ foot off each side. Really praise your dog when he goes on the grass or sniffs around on the grass like he my be considering using it. Do not give the command go potty when your dog goes to the carpet, only when he is on the grass. If he goes to the carpet ignore him do not say anything, do not give the go potty command. If he goes potty on the carpet, tell him good boy go potty, but not enthusiastically. If he goes on the grass make a party out of your praise, be very enthusiastic. (Dogs love a praise party)

Daina Beckman
Dog Behavior Specialist/Dog Trainer
Happy Tails Dog Behavior & Training

Successful Cleaning to Remove Pet Odors and Stains

Has your pet left “scent marks” of urination and/or defecation on your floor or furniture?

To successfully re-train your pet to avoid those areas, follow these basic steps:

  • Find all soiled areas using your nose and eyes. A black-light bulb will usually show even old urine stains. Turn out all lights in the room; use the black-light to identify soiled areas and lightly outline the areas with chalk.
  • Clean the soiled areas appropriately to remove the odors (see below).
  • Make the areas unattractive and/or unavailable
  • Make the appropriate “bathroom” area attractive
  • Teach your pet the appropriate place to eliminate by using positive reinforcement

These steps work as a team! In order for your efforts to be successful, you need to follow all of these steps. If you fail to completely clean the area, your other re-training efforts will be useless. As long as your pet can smell that personal scent, he’ll continue to return to the “accident zone.” Even if you can’t smell traces of urine, your pet can. Your most important chore is to remove (neutralize) that odor.

Methods To Avoid
You should avoid using steam cleaners to clean urine odors from carpet or upholstery. The heat will permanently set the odor and the stain by bonding the protein into any man-made fibers. You should also avoid using cleaning chemicals, especially those with strong odors, such as ammonia. From your pet’s perspective, these don’t effectively eliminate or cover the urine odor and may actually encourage your pet’s inclination to reinforce the urine scent mark in that area.

To Clean Washable Items


Play biting is dangerous these bites hurt and can lead to injury. Never make excuses for your dog biting. They know where their mouth is and what they are doing with it. Biting should never be allowed. There is no single solution for all dogs to correct biting. This instruction sheet is intended to help correct puppy play biting. For play biting, the best discipline is for the puppy to loose the good time he is having right now.
Do not get into a “puppy fight” with your puppy. Walk away if he is being rough. DO NOT HIT the puppy, DO NOT force the puppy down. You will damage the human/animal bond, the puppy will view you as cruel, and soon all interaction with you and all people will be met with aggression on the puppy’s part. He will learn that all people are going to be aggressive and hurt him, so he will try to deter your aggression by becoming aggressive first to get you to back down. Don’t play with the puppy as though you are his littermate or subordinate. Play should include some rules, and occasionally a command.
Give the sit command with your hand and voice, and praise and reward with a toy. If you have become a subordinate litter mate and your puppy has become aggressive during play then tell me or bring it up in class and we will cover behavior modification for this behavior problem.
If you find your puppy becomes aggressive only after playing for a period of time; say for example 30 minutes then stop the play at 20 minutes.

Puppies spend their early life roughhousing and play-fighting with litter mates. When one is bitten to hard, he will let out a sharp high pitched yelp. The biter is startled and plays ends. The biter learns that overly aggressive behavior results in a frightening noise and ends the fun. This is how dogs learn to be gentle with each other while playing. They also learn to play more gently from their moms. Dog learn to inhibit rough play from 8 weeks old to 24 weeks old. We will have to train this inhibition if the puppy was adopted before 24 weeks old.

Tug of war and roughhousing sometimes teaches and encourages biting. If you are rough-playing and the puppy is biting, perhaps he sees you as a litter-mate and not pack leader. Fetch is a great game to play. Also squeak the toy. While he is holding the toy, squeak it and say “squeak it”. When he squeaks it give lots of praise. Some dogs enjoy holding a squeaky toy and having you squeak it.

Ok, when you are playing with puppy and he puts his mouth on you, say ouch in a high pitch and
loud yelp, try to imitate a puppy yelp. Immediately turn your side to the dog and leave. Go where he can not follow, such as stepping over a baby gate. Stay away for 30 seconds, and gradually increase the time to 5 minutes. You want your puppy to learn to be extremely gentle, so even if he bumps you with his teeth, yelp and leave.

You can also give a loud, quick, short, deep growl while moving your upper body and face toward the puppy. This correction should last no more than 2 or 3 seconds. Immediately forgive the puppy and resume play. When you growl be sure to give the puppy an angry look… “how dare you!”

You can also teach him to take his treats gently. Offer the treat and give a command such as be “gentle” using a soft voice. If he bumps your fingers with his teeth remove the treat. Be sure to speak softly and give lots of praise. If he nips you give a high pitched ouch, and remove the treat and go away.

Teach him to let you examine his mouth. Start by gently sliding your thumb under his lip to expose his teeth. Give him lots of praise, and repeat this till he is comfortable with it. Then try opening his mouth for a few seconds, lots of praise, and gradually increase the time until you are able to open his mouth and examine his teeth. Lots of praise and a treat or two. Work slowly, day by day. Once he is comfortable having his mouth examined, start brushing his teeth daily be sure to use toothpaste for dogs, which you can get from your veterinarian or a pet store.

* Try this one as a last resort. If done wrong this techniques could teach your dog that human hands are not nice and therefore are to be avoided or met with aggression. If you have a dog that is already aggressive, do not use this exercise. I like to teach the no bite command which can come in handy in many situations. Such as puppy trying to play rough with the kitty or if he is going to put his mouth on something he’s not supposed to . Remember you are a gentle leader. When puppy is putting his mouth where he shouldn’t gently place your hand around his muzzle and say in a growl “ no bite”, remove your hand, if he doesn’t go back to the thing with his mouth, immediately give lots of praise.
* Note: some dogs may be provoked to snapping with this method.

Daina Beckman
Dog Behavior Specialist
Happy Tails Dog Behavior & Training

Developmental Stages Of Dogs

Neonatal Birth to 2 weeks: Neonatal period. Puppy is devoted to obtaining nutrition & staying warm. He is not self sufficient. He needs stimulation to urinate & defecate. He has no sight or hearing. He is deficient in senses of smell, taste, touch. He reacts to hot & cold & the smell of mother. He may vocalize while searching from side to side. Environment affects only inasmuch as it touches him. Growth is rapid in this period. EEG shows no difference between wake & sleep. Exposure to varied stimulation may produce more confident and exploratory behavior later. Gentle, regular handling would be beneficial.

Transition 2-3 wks. Eyes will open at average of 13 days. Pupils will react to light, retina still underdeveloped, puppy is unable to see objects or movement until 21days. He will crawl backward then as well as forward a few days later will begin to wobble. He gets his first teeth at 20 days, tail wagging begins. He begins to react to sound at 19.5 days, he startles at sound but can’t locate it. They start play-fighting with littermates, developing their communication signals and simple association. They begin to learn more readily and retain learning long term.

Awareness/ socialization: 21 days-13 weeks: This is the first week puppy is able to use senses of sight & hearing. Change in sensory happens abruptly over a 24 hr period a stable environment is necessary. He has the greatest need for mother & familiar environment. Weaning or moving to now location in all likelihood will psychologically scar the puppy. Learning begins during this period. This is when he learns what it is to be a dog. The socialization period is when the formation of important relationships with mother, littermates, other animals, humans takes place. Puppy is sensitive to social bond. For example if raised only with kittens during his period, puppies will bond with cats but avoid other dogs. Puppies also form attachment to social objects and location attachments.
Between 3-5 wks puppies will approach and make contact with unfamiliar humans. They also tolerate passive handling, but will become more hesitant about it after 5 weeks.
8-10 weeks first fear period. Puppies are hypersensitive to aversive stimulation. If intense negative emotionality is stimulated during this fear period, its effects can be longstanding and very difficult to reverse. It is important to avoid and fear stimulation at the 8-10 wk period. Placement in a new home would be better at 7-7 1/2 wks or 10 ½ wks.

Socialization period 21-49 days. Three to seven weeks puppy learns to use species specific behaviors. To reach genetic potential puppy should stay in the den with mother & litter mates. He will practice body postures, facial expression & vocalization & learn their effects on his siblings mother and other dogs he comes in contact with. He learns how it sounds to bark & be barked at. How it feels to bite & be bitten. He learns chase games , imitating catch & bring down game. Coordination & timing. Greeting behavior & fight games teach him the use of body postures & expression to elicit various responses. He learns submissive body posture and how to turn off aggression of litter mate. During this period puppy learns one of the most important lessons of life to accept discipline. He learns through mom who teaches him not to bite hard. Or during weaning process to leave her alone. A normal mom will set up puppy so she can discipline him. Mom still wants to be with puppy’. Mom disciplines puppy by giving him a meaningful look accompanied by an almost imperceptible wrinkle of the nose. If puppy keeps it up she will give him a noise scolding accompanied by a nip on the nose. Scolding consists of a growly snarl, and the nip is rarely hard enough to hurt. The lesson is well learned. Puppy quickly rolls over onto his back screaming; mom immediately stops the discipline & assumes a benevolent and haughty expression. Discipline is swift & to the point and over as quick at it started. Puppy learns to respect facial expression which is forewarning the discipline. He learns he can & will be disciplined in his life. He learns to assume submissive posture and when he does it will stop the scolding. Puppy learns to accept discipline. This can be carried over to new master later. He begins relieving away from sleeping area. Strong attachments begin. Puppy bonds not only with his own species but others as well; this is when people & other species should be introduced. 21-49 days he learns behaviors which make him a dog if deprived will never again be able to fully learn these lessons. Puppies removed from nest to early tend to be nervous, bark, bite & often cannot accept discipline. They are frequently aggressive with other dogs, will not realize genetic potential.

Human socialization 7-12 wks. This is the best time to bring to a new home. This is also best time to introduce puppy to things that will play a role in his life such as other animals; he must interact peacefully with them he should meet in a positive non-threatening manner. Also the vacuum, car engines, city traffic, children, men with beards, senior citizens. EEG is now the same as adult dog. Capacity for concentration is not yet adult, attention span is short but he can learn. He will learn weather taught nor not. Most rapid learning occurs now. Experiences make a greater impression on him now than ever will again. Learning at this age is permanent. This is the ideal time to begin positive non-punitive obedience training.

Fear period 8-11 wks. Any traumatic , painful or frightening experience will have a more lasting impact than if it had occurred at any other time. It is puppies perception that is important, not that of the owner. If he goes to the vet it should be fun, take toys & treats. No elective surgery should be done now. If puppy is taken to obedience class it should be non-stressful. Choke chains and prong collars are stressful.

Seniority classification period. 13 to 16 weeks. Also known as the cutting age. Cutting teeth & apron strings. Puppy begins testing to see who is going to be pack leader. If puppy attempts to bite even in play it is an attempt to dominate. Biting is absolutely discouraged from 13 weeks on. Pack leader is listened to and obeyed, knowing who is leader is important to the dog. If no person takes the role, the dog will. The more dominant the dog the more important it is that there be a strong & consistent leader. If training has not begun earlier it must be started at this age to avoid serious problem later.

Flight instinct 4-8 mo. Puppy will test his wings. He will venture off on his own & may turn a deaf ear when called. Flight instinct period lasts from a few days to several weeks. How the dog is handled during this stage will mean the difference between a dog who doesn’t come & one who responds readily. Milk teeth are lost between 4 & 6 mo. Chewing stage is not over, at 6-10 mo. Teeth are set in jaw, chewing is necessary.

Second fear impact 6-14 mo. Fear of new situations. The dog suddenly is reluctant to approach something new or be frightened of something or someone familiar. He should not be forced into a confrontation or bullied into being brave or reinforced in his fear through soothing tones & petting. Force will frighten further, and soothing tones will encourage fear. Fear should be handled with patience and kindness. Let the dog work it out for himself. Training during this period puts dog in a position of success, self confidence will be built up. If obedience call is frightening he may generalize this fear to all situations where there are groups of dogs. He may generalize this fear to the specific event or the location.

maturity 1-4 yrs. Many breeds particularly giant breeds continue growing & physically changing beyond four yrs. Maturity refers to sexual rather than growth. Average is 1.5 to 3 yrs. Small dogs earlier and giant dogs later. Maturity is marked by an increase in aggression & by a renewed testing for leadership. Increased aggression is not necessarily negative. A previously over friendly dog becomes a good watch dog and barks to alert. 2 dogs who were once friends may begin to fight. Regular training throughout this testing period is important to maintain pack structure, praise for proper response & deterring him from top dog position will remind him the issue is settled.

Summary: dogs understand one another regardless of breed etc. Dogs presume that we understand their system of communication. When we misunderstand his message problems occur.