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Reuben is nearly 10 months old and I think becoming a teenager! I am desperately trying to get him to engage in playing with me when out on walks and get his interest for only a tiny amount of time. He is far too keen on sniffing, weeing on everything and other dogs. I keep trying different toys and play hide and seek etc but mostly feel like I am fighting a losing battle. His recall is very up and down and i take the long line with me always now and lots of training on this especially in areas with distractions. He has dog friends and plays nicely with them but I also want him to focus on me.

He is definitely testing the boundaries at the moment and unfortunately failed his Bronze test last Friday and was just completely unfocused on me. Even the trainer was really surprised at how cheeky he was being! I was away from him for 3 nights prior to the test so know of course this would not of helped but it was just bad timing.  I am not concerned about the test failure as this can be done again and I have no time limit expectations. However i would like to get through this phase with my sanity left intact!

Would it be best that I walk him mainly on his own and only limited days of doggy playtime or is this detrimental to his socialisation?

My trainer also suggested being aloof at home with him and giving him the attention when out on walks, but i find this quite difficult. He is very good at home and quite chilled, obedient and even seemed to have stopped pinching things ie toys etc.

He is not neutered so I know he has hormone surges to deal with but do they level out at some point?

Also his lead walking is generally quite good now unless we are walking with doggy friends and I spend most of my time lagging behind due to the stop, start and walk in the other direction exercises. He will then will sit when I stop but whines as obviously frustrated that he is being left behind. How do I deal with this frustation? Do I  ignore the whinning and continue with my stop, starts etc until we catch up with friends or do I abandon walking with my friends and turn round and go off on our own walk? I have a lot of patience so am happy to persevere but I also want Reuben to learn something rather than just getting completely wound up with frustration.

And lastly approximately what age did your dogs come through the other side of adolescence and does it all click in to place (wishful thinking for me at the moment, haha)

Thank you, I am off to take some Valium now, lol

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Susan, I know it's a reply for Louise, but thank you anyway.

I got a lot out of it, too. Walking different new ways, hide and seek games, or just doing things they don't expect works wonders!

When I hide, I watch Gina spinning around, with this special "chook-in-a-thunderstorm" look of hers, and I can see the little brain wheels turning "Where on earth is mummy?"

And really, Gina is getting better and better at focusing on me, as she never knows what her mum is up to next... just watch out! I think these are great tricks to get them focused.

Also, the thing of making them stop and sit before they are allowed to run to dogs works well.

There is a lot in your contribution to take on board, for example the thing with the fluffy toy or a long skipping rope. I've never tried it - will do next time!
And thinking that the good work kicks in at the age of two means a lot of comfort, for Louise and Reuben & for me and 20month old Gina.
Thank you Susan, I will give your advice a go and it is so reassuring to hear taht his behaviour at present is perfectly normal!
I empathise with you entirely Louise. Bella doesn't have any dog walking buddies as I am still a newbie in my area so I don't have that distraction, however she does seem to find me about as interesting as watching paint dry when we are out and about. She loves to play fetch and chase with toys either in the house or our back garden but when I whip them out in the paddock or on walks she looks at me like I have lost my mind and will not entertain the idea of playing when there are sniffles to be had. If I am out on our land doing bits and pieces (I make it sound so grand - it is only 3.5acres, but if I say garden then there is no sense of scale) I have Bella off lead as it is all securely fenced and she regularly checks my whereabouts and comes when called, albeit sometimes a little slowly. However when we are walking around the reservoirs I have yet to chance her off the lead and keep her on a long line which I am holding the end of 85% of the time as she rarely looks my way and is not interested in rewards when I do praise her for glancing at me. The only times I tend to let it go are when I know there is nowhere she can leg it to, or we have got ourselves in a pickle and the only way out is to let go. On today's walk she kept going back to a spot (must have been a very interesting smell) and we were making no forward progress on getting home so on the third time I had tried to move her on I told her to sit whilst I put her short lead on but she flopped into a Lie Down like a stroppy teenager who has had their mobile phone taken away.... I think if she could have said "whatever" then she would. At the moment my sense of humour about these incidents is still very much in place...... ask me in another year though! My trainer is starting Recall Workshops in May and I am already signed up!
I love all these messages - gladdens my heart to read them and know we are all having fun!.

After Jinty (AKA Beetroot) I had forgotten ( I don't know how!!) about 'puppy hood' and the high jinx they get up to!.
Rio has decided to help me in the garden - I dig the weeds up and Rio takes them out of the wheelbarrow and shred's them everywhere, tried telling him off but he is such a cheeky boy, he bark's back at me and thinks it's a game!.

Have just been up to the 130 acre field that we go in, Rio has had a 'great time' chasing birds and stretching his leg's - he didn't see the hare that ran behind him but he found the scent and was 'off', I have discovered it's best if I don't go into complete panic although I have to say this is very hard when I see him disappearing into the distance - after all he can get around the field a lot faster than I can - so I waited and bless him minutes later he came charging over the horizon and straight back to me!.

My Husband is of the opinion that IS's have the attention span of a goldfish! I like to think they have an inquiring mind!.

It might not feel like you are getting anywhere, everything you put in at this age seems to 'click' into place at about 3 years of age and they settle down to be better than a lot of breed's, - so I guess there's a bit more of him prancing in front of the full length mirror, leaping across the bed's in the spare room, pinching the toilet roll's, running around 'ever so pleased with himself' - when he knows he has something he shouldn't in his mouth.
Oh, it can all be rather frustrating but there are special moments in there and as I sit here he is sound asleep at my feet.
I love the bit about the attention span of a goldfish... and being as interesting as watching paint dry...:-)))

Actually I am sure there ARE ways of enjoying life without having a crazy setter - but would life really be worth it???
Totally agree with all the above and am finding it absolutely hysterical reading. Anybody who has had a number of IS over a period of time will sympathise. Just think adolescent kids. At twelve months your IS will behave like a 7 year old.....at 24 months he will be 14 and then there are the teenage years........enjoy!!!
love this susan and agree I like my crazy setter life now!
Thank you everyone for your replies and help and I have to report that reuben is a bit better again now. I still take the long lead everywhere with me though as not 100% on recall but improving.
He still doesnt play much with me when out but again is slightly better and I am not forcing it. Infact I have relaxed a bit(not with his basic training) and trying to understand things a bit more from Reuben's perspective.
This weekend i had my friends twins to stay and along with my 5 year old it was a very noisy busy household and reuben was so brilliant with them it was lovely. One of the twins was scared of him to start with but was totally into him within hours!
Louise don't despair his sister Aitumn is just as bad......just their age!
Sue, I love this last remark of yours!
Let's enjoy the week, and let's hope we notice when they reach their peak week:))
haha naughty Autumn, I won't let on to Reuben though and will tell him he has to behave like his sister!
Hi the only thing that gets my 1 year old called Rileys attention when out in the field with his doggie friends is to take a small ball with the ball thrower so I can throw it a long way then all the dogs chase it and it ends up like a great game. I say in a high pitched voice find ball Riley and he runs like a race horse to get to it first and then he brings it straight back to me. I don't use tennis balls in the thrower cos they are not interesting to him but I use an orange coloured hard ball which is completely chew proof and he loves it. My dog used to be great on recall until he reached 10 months of age and then he decided to get brave. I now use a spray collar which sprays lemon scent smell if he runs off and then he turns around and comes straight back to me. He has even started to still come back if he doesn't have the collar on so I feel it is a great training aid. They do get better with age but I think setters are such free spirits that they never grow up lol

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