Two Different Experiences
The ‘Magical’ Age of Two
We’ve heard this expression before, and found it a curious one. What does this mean exactly? We’ve discovered the answer to this question within our own first hand experiences. We have had the privilege of sharing our lives with two wire-fox terriers, first Casey and now Colby, and we could not have had two more different experiences.
Colby has enjoyed, and even reveled in his puppy-hood. In fact there were times when we thought he would never outgrow and give up some of his mischievous antics! To explain, a little history is required to further enlighten.
Casey was not an Alpha-Male, he was the runt of his litter, and had completely different personality traits. Casey was tentative, cautious, even skeptical, and hence very moldable. Colby, on the other hand, was the first born in his litter of six puppies, an Alpha-Male, which roughly translates into ‘Stubborn’ and ‘I’m born to be wild’. These are of course not negative traits, just challenging ones. These traits were apart of Colby’s charm, charisma, and ultimately his identity. He was after all, the ‘leader of his pack’, he was just doing was he was born to be – a leader! What Colby desperately needed, almost craved was structure and rules. There was only one other element missing with this equation, a replacement ‘pack leader’. Colby seemed to respond best to David, a strong masculine presence whom he respected and had a need to please. We both noticed this, so we capitalized on this aspect, and began his training to accept another ‘pack leader’.
We developed a plan, a training strategy, and above all we were consistent with the strategy. We did notice changes over time, but there were ‘regressions’ to his progress. Colby would often attempt to assert his dominance; it was important to correct it when it occurred. Our message was clear and consistent "You are not the pack leader anymore, I am!"
This strategy continued over a period of six months, we were pleased with the ‘quick wins’, but there was much work yet to be done. In a few words, we wanted to see consistent behavior.
And then it happened, Colby was nearing his second birthday. Two months before, we began to notice subtle but noticeable changes in his behaviors. More attention span, the thinking cap seemed to be in use more, aggressive play habits were lessening, and above all he wanted our approval and he would do almost anything to get it.
Colby would try to communicate using repeated behaviors to indicate what he wanted. We reinforced this as ‘good responses’, and offered treat rewards. Colby loves his toys, so we understood that play time was ‘his reward/his treat’. Treats do not necessarily have to be a food item; it is anything the dog desires most. Since Colby loved his playtime, this became his reward. Essentially, we leveraged Colby’s familiar puppy-hood antics in a training strategy that we could use to mold him into the fine little gentleman that he has become.
Though we’ve had very different experiences with both Casey and Colby, it is interesting bordering astonishing that the calming and desired behaviors occurred at or about the age of two years of age. Is there some validity in this expression ‘The Magic Age of two’, we do believe that there is something magical that happens – but we leave this up to you!
Friends & Family.