I clearly remember the early days of puppy training. It was a lot like having an infant or young child, without the convenience of language. Of course I used language (good and bad), but early on, the puppy was clueless. I have vivid memories of how frisky Coco was. I remember taking her out for potty breaks, on the leash, and trying to get her to stay focused and take care of business. A few times, I even overheard my neighbors giggling about our struggles. One night, I was doing the routine nighttime break and realized just how close of a hold I had on the dog leash. There was absolutely no slack. She was within arms reach and still hard to wrangle. In that moment, I got the visual of the phrase "on a short leash".
While it seemed natural for the short distance between us to guide her to do the right thing, she didn't. Over time, I gradually eased up and loosened the rein a bit and noticed that after a short time of exploration, she got back on track. So, just as with children, she needed the supervision and guidance, but with a little freedom to do it her way. Having a teen and pre-teen recently brought this back to my remembrance. I'll admit that being a control freak makes it very hard for me to fall back in most areas, but the kids really do need the space to find their way (or see that Mom really knows best). They will pull all of the stops to assert their independence, but find comfort and stability in the structure and boundaries.
This has been the least fun stage, and I'm not sure it will improve any time soon. It's definitely a transitional phase for everyone. I've resolved to try to stay positive (1happymommy), take it in stride, one day at a time, and hope to come out wiser.