My Dog Is Out Of Control And Untrainable!? What Do I Do?

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Our golden puppy is out of control!
Linus teaching Charlie not to be an “out of control” puppy.

My readers often tell me: “My dog is out of control and untrainable!? What do I do?”

I guess we’ve been lucky. After working with hundreds of dogs we haven’t come across one that was untrainable.

One reader says:

We have a 7 month old Bichon Maltese mix puppy…potty training is going very badly. We do everything that is recommended. We use a crate. We reward her after she does her business outside. We have her on a regular feeding schedule. She still routinely pees and poops inside including in her crate. She is showing no improvement. We have had many dogs and trained lots of puppies in the past. But I believe this dog may simply be UNTRAINABLE! –R.S.

So what do you do when your dog is out of control and untrainable like this reader’s Bichon/Maltese?

Sit tight, we’re going to give you a few suggestions that may help you with your out of control, untrainable dog.

My Dog Is Out Of Control And Untrainable!? What Do I Do?

Okay guys, so far in our experiences, we haven’t come across an untrainable dog.

Out of control? Yes!

Untrainable? No.

In this blog post I’m going to focus specifically on my plan of action for my dog, Raven. That being said here are some of the common reasons why your dog may be displaying “out of control” behavior.

  1. Lack of exerciseRaven has gotten less exercise recently. Are you exercising your dog regularly?
  2. Lack of mental stimulationRaven doesn’t get as much mental stimulation as she used to. Are you working on new things with your dog daily?
  3. Sudden change in dog’s lifeWe recently had twins and our elder statesman, Linus passed a few months agoDid something change in your life?
  4. Dog BreedRaven is a Golden Retriever, an energetic sporting breed. Your dog’s breed may be predisposed to more energetic behavior. Understanding your breed may help you put together a better training plan for your uncontrollable dog.
  5. Dog’s dietRaven eats a premium dog food – It’s possible that a low quality diet could be causing your dog to exhibit unusual behavior…think kids who had too much sugar or in Emma’s case, she gets HANGRY when she doesn’t get food.
  6. HealthRaven is in great health – there could be some underlying health issue. If you think you’re having this problem contact your vet immediately.

Colby’s Life Update: We had several major life changes over the past year and a half. Our first daughter Emma was born, a little over a year later Linus passed away (he was Raven’s running buddy), and just two months ago we had twin daughters.

Our “Out Of Control” Dog, Raven

Crazy, out of control puppies!
Crazy, out of control puppies!

Recently my wife and I took a vacation and left Stetson and Raven with my parents. When we returned home we were told that Stetson was a good boy, but Raven was out of control. She definitely still has some puppy in her.

Raven is not untrainable, but she can be out of control. So how can I get my dog to calm down?

I’ve seen this out of control behavior before when new people come to our house. I decided to focus on how to keep Raven under control when new visitors come to the house.

Here’s my step-by-step plan of action:

  1. Consult a Certified Professional Dog Trainer – Yes, I know we’re supposed to be experts. Regardless we consulted with a Certified Professional Dog Trainer and got some great advice on things we can do to control Raven’s behavior.
  2. Teach your dog obedience skills – If you haven’t taught your dog obedience skills now is the time to work on it. Our plan is to sharpen Raven’s obedience skills by making her perform basic obedience in everyday situations. Sit-Stay before eating her meals. Wait patiently at doors before going in/out. Lay down nicely while we have meals.
  3. Focus on one behavior at a time –  We want to focus specifically on keeping Raven calm when guests come over to the house. We have 2 month old twins and we have visitors all the time. The arrival of guests is Raven’s uncontrollable time. Our plan is to have her go to her mat or bed, use a tie down, and give her a puzzle toy or bully stick for the first 10 minutes when people come over. This will give her a chance to have a calm energy when greeting new guests.
  4. Get the energy out – Since the twins arrived (actually since Emma arrived) we haven’t had our regular walk and play schedule with the dogs. Time to get back int a daily exercise routine to get some of that pent up energy out.
  5. Make sure everyone in the house is on the same page – Training was easier when it was just me. Now we have my wife, the in-laws, and my parents over regularly. We’re not all doing the same thing and that’s my fault. In order for this to work we all need to be on the same page and that brings us to step 6…
  6. Get your plan down on paper – I want to get everything on paper so I and the rest of my family can be consistent with Raven’s training regimen.

That’s it! Six steps! Hopefully this will help minimize Raven’s out of control outbursts.

Quick Tip: If you haven’t heard of the zoomies you might want to read this blog post about one of our crazy puppies

Are Some Dog’s Really Untrainable?

Hmmm…well, I never want to say never, but we have never (oops!) worked with a dog that we considered untrainable.

Some dogs are definitely more difficult than others. Some dog breeds are known to be more difficult to train.

If you want more information on what breeds are more trainable then others check out Stanley Coren’s The Intelligence of Dogs.

An interesting read, Coren includes a list of top 100 dog breeds ranking in obedience and working intelligence.

Hint: the breeds we most commonly train as Service Dogs: German Shepherds (#3), Golden Retrievers (#4), and Labrador Retrievers (#7) are all considered highly intelligent.

Golden Puppy Chasing Golden Mama!
Charlie Chasing Raven and her toy

What About Our Reader’s Out of Control Untrainable Dog?

Regarding our reader’s Bichon/Maltese mix puppy, we’ve already written a several articles about crate and potty training.

Our reader should take a step back and start from the beginning with crate and potty training.

My recommendation would be to review these articles

And a few words of wisdom:

Crate Training

If your puppy is peeing and pooping in her crate then you want to do everything in your power to make her successful.

First, make sure the crate is totally clean by thoroughly cleaning with an enzymatic cleaner like Rocco & Roxie’s Stain and Odor Eliminator.

Next, lower your expectations. Make sure she’s successful in her crate. Try starting by leaving her in the crate for only 5 minutes then when she’s done reward and praise her for a job well done. Slowly increase the amount of time she spends in the crate making sure she is successful every step of the way.

Potty Training

One word for potty training your puppy: Management.

When our puppies are in the house we keep an eye on them 100% of the time by keeping them on leash and by our side. This allows us to catch potential accidents before they happen.

By keeping an eye on your puppy at all times you’ll start to recognize his pre-potty activity: Sniffing, circling, squatting, etc. You will definitely notice some changes in your pup’s body language.

A funny thing to note. My daughter is now 18 months old and I’ve noticed that she has definite pre-poopie signals too:

  1. Gets very quiet
  2. Face starts to turn red
  3. Extreme concentration
  4. Grunting

My daughters pre-potty signals are definitely easier to spot. If your observant you’ll pick up on your puppy’s pre-potty signals very quickly and catch any accident before it happens.

Our Action Plan For Our “Out Of Control” Dog

You didn’t think we’d end without showing you exactly what we are going to do with Raven.

Raven already has good obedience skills and she is a very intelligent dog.

Our biggest problem is getting everyone in the house on the same page. So, we put together a short document for everyone in our house to follow.

We added a Printable PDF of Raven’s Training Routine to our FREE Resource Library.

This is the exact same PDF I printed for our family to follow. (it’s sitting on our dining room table).

Sign up for our newsletter by filling out the form below and get free access to our Resource Library.

Every dog should have a personalized training routine.

Raven’s training routine example will give you a good idea of what we are working on to help calm and control our dog.

That’s it folks!

We’ll revisit this post in a few weeks/months to let you know if Raven is doing better or if she’s still an “out of control” dog when guests come over to the house.

What do you think?

Will this plan of action help Raven be more calm?

What do you do if your dog is out of control?

Do you think your dog might be untrainable?

QUICK TIP: If you’re having trouble training your puppy then we highly recommend Puppies for Dummies. It will give you a solid foundation on how to raise and train your puppy.

Tell us your thoughts and questions in the comment section below.

My out of control untrainable dogs Raven and Charlie....Playing or being crazy?
Raven and Charlie are out of control!

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30 Comments

  1. Raven and Remy have some similarities! This is an awesome post that really spells it out. Remy is so laid back (really, it’s true) when it’s just us around but he becomes out of control as well when we have visitors. Taking the time to come up with a consistent training plan for your unique dog makes all the difference.

    With Remy, consistently showing him a more appropriate behavior like waiting on his bed will also make all the difference. Like you said, some sort of puzzle toy would also help him focus on something other than jumping on our visitors.

  2. Hello Colby, thank you for the Printable PDF Ravin Training Routine and I may do the same to print out and put somewhere. I agreed with you, there is no such as “untrainable” but maybe it can refer as difficult to train. You can train but need a time. Patience is the key. As a dog owner myself, the one thing should people realized before training any dog, they need to think about what behaviour the dog should do to get a reward. That is the first step, then it continues with communication and bonding between the dog and human.

  3. My only problem is my dog really loves to wander and I’m really afraid he might be going to be lost you know and I’m really new with my new family you know.

  4. Raven is a sweet dog but definitely needs training. Will exercising her regularly help? She seems full of energy.
    Thank you

    1. Raven’s been going to training for the past couple months. The biggest issue I see with her right now is new people, places, things (or people she doesn’t see regularly). Since our in-laws have been coming over several days a week she is much calmer with them then she is with other guests.

      I think more exercise would help, but also having her hang around new people more often who understand what to do with her when she is excited. In general if you know what you’re doing her excited behavior only lasts for about 5-10 minutes and after that short period she has a calm demeanor.

      She’s a work in progress and definitely still acts like a puppy.

  5. Good luck with Raven! I think you’re right about keeping everybody on the same page and being consistent. Dogs seem to want to please their owners, so I do believe they are trainable. Btw, why aren’t standard poodles used as guild dogs? They are hypo-allergetic and very intelligent so I’m surprised they aren’t used more.

    1. Raven wants attention and likes to please everyone. The main problem is I need to educate everyone that comes in our door and manage her behavior for the first 10 minutes when new guests arrive.

      When I raised Stetson I asked about Standard Poodles and Doodles. The school brought these breeds into the program, but students who made requests decided that the work/cost to keep them well groomed outweighed the benefits of being hypo-allergenic…suddenly they weren’t so allergic to their dogs…

      There still are schools that train Poodles and Doodles for Service and Guide Dog work they’re just not as popular a breed as Golden Retrievers and Labrador Retrievers.

  6. I agree, no dog is ever untrainable… no matter the behavior. Great article. And congrats on your new twins, how exciting!

    1. Thank you! The new twins are a lot of work. They’re already 2 months old! Yikes, time goes by fast. Yes, we haven’t come across an untrainable dog yet. Some are definitely more difficult then others.

  7. Great article!! I can’t wait to see how Raven progresses with her specialized training! Do you think the older the dog is, the harder he/she is to train?

    1. Thank you! Raven’s a good dog she just needs a little help here and there. I think older dogs learn things that sometimes need to be unlearned or handled differently then if you start with a puppy with a clean slate. For instance, I think many people don’t properly teach the cue “Come”. For instance, you say “Come” your dog doesn’t come and you just decide “Oh Well”. In this scenario your dog does not know nor has she learned anything about the word “Come”. If anything it means ignore my owner. Now, she will probably need to re-learn this cue which may be more difficult.

  8. Lucky for us, Georgie is #3 on the list for intelligence and obedience. He was fairly easy to train however he was never motivated by treats. I think some of the other tips that you offered work better than treats…consistency! It works great with kids too 🙂

    1. Yeah, not all dogs are motivated by treats. The key is to find what motivates them. Does Georgie have a favorite toy or maybe a chew like a bully stick? And yep for the consistency with kids. We’re working our best we can with our three little ones.

  9. Thank you for this amazing article. You are right, no dog is untrainable. It is nice that there is help for all dog problems. It’s great that “Out Of Control” Dog, Raven runs smoothly again.

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