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. Ok this is a tough one ! I have a 6 month Cocker Spaniel girl ( Florence) whose first encounter once she left her litter and her mummy was my best friends Bassett Hound Audrey who is so laid back she is horizontal !

    The problem I have is Florence is out of control , I mean seriously out of control whenever she sees Audrey when we are out walking . My husband said today when she saw Audrey he thought Florence was going to attack him because he would not let her get to Audrey . Our trainer has been teaching Florence needs respect and good manners and does not decide when she gets to call the shots ! We have tried everything . Training sessions with Audrey and Florence , walking past each other nothing works …Audrey does not react at all but Florence is so besotted with her and if she cannot get to her turns into the most dreadful aggressive temper tantrum teenager you have ever seen . Please please can you help , Florence is really fine with every other dog , but I think she sees Audrey as her mother . Once she is with Audrey she will not leave her alone and eventually Audrey has a snap to say enough which is fine ..but it’s the reaction when she sees her and we don’t let her go across the street to say hello calmly and respectfully …

  2. My dog Jack is a pit bull and normally he is a good dog but he will go after other animals and he recently broke through our fence and attacked our neighbors dogs. Luckily the dog was okay and beat up my dog. I just don’t know what to do with him anymore. He can’t control himself around other animals and I’m scared something worse will happen.

  3. I’ve had my dog since he was 8 weeks old. He’s 8 months now. He has always been trouble. From day 1 he has never been able to be in his crate without barking/crying the entire time. I live in an apartment and my neighbors weren’t happy so I gave up on crate training. He’s terrified of any leash/collars/ harnesses. He will run and hide and it takes 2 people to get his harness on. He pees on the pee pads when he feels like it. But lately he’s been marking everything that touches the floor. He’s also always been very ‘teethy’ and likes to bite. I don’t want to get rid of him but I’m a single mom to a 5 year old and I’m wondering if I’m just not capable of training.

    1. Training a puppy is a lot of work. Besides reading blog posts like this one you might want to look into getting help from a certified professional dog trainer. An in-home session would be best so the trainer can see the exact behaviors you’d like to work on. However in-home training can be expensive. A second option would be to enroll in group training classes. This is less expensive and you can still get training tips and feedback from a certified trainer. Hopefully that helps. Good luck with your training!

  4. My 1 1/2 year old puppy drives me crazy she does not want to be leash train she rolls around untill she off the leash and bolts to the other neighbors homes. She bolts out the front door at times and i find it very hard to catch her.we do do not knowwhat to do she just does not mind at all and she barks all the time

  5. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading your blog and your advice. I took in a 16 month old Yorkie from a family member who couldn’t care for him. We already have a 8 year old Morkie so I thought it would be a good idea to have two, along with 2 Maine Coon cats. He’s not neutered yet, we have an appointment. The problem is he had no training, he was always on a leash or tied up. We have crate trained him at night, taught him basic commands. The problem I am having is that any time I go to feed wet food (breakfast and dinner) he attacks the other pets. I have tried putting him in his kennel to eat and he thrashed and thrashed, right now I feed the cats up higher and then feed our other Morkie and then him. Being doing this for 2 months now and nothing has changed. Also anytime I go to pay attention to one of the cats he growls and lunges at him. I am thinking he’s doing that because they are both males and he’s not neutered, am I right? Right now those are the only issues we are having. I went into this knowing it would take time to train him due to the trauma he’d had. The family member had him tied up in a motorhome and ended up in the hospital and then in the ICU and family was unaware for 4 days. So the dog had no food or water for 4 days, until I was able to find the motorhome and break in and get him. Any suggestions? Due to COVID trainers in our area aren’t working right now, I have thought about it.

    1. I’m glad you were able to rescue him. You definitely should have a professional certified dog trainer or behaviorist come over for an in home evaluation. I understand that it’s not possible at this time, but it’s very important that you have someone observe your dog’s behavior before making any recommendations. I’m sorry I can’t be much help on this one. Hopefully the COVID situation clears up soon and you can have someone over to assess your situation and give you a training plan.

  6. Hi. I have a non puppy situation that I need guidance on if possible… 2 years ago my daughter adopted a 4 year old corgi mix from our local shelter… great dog for the most part… this issue is he has chew his way out of multiple metal crates, chewed holes in the carpet, chew door frames and molding.. this is not a consistent action but an often one.. she has done the training, day care, long walk before and after work, even medicated him.. she lives in an apartment with a dog park and frequently lets him run and play… she just is beside herself because she can’t train him NOT to destroy his surroundings.. some say he has separation anxiety when she leaves and others say he’s bored but she has to work and always makes her spare time with him special. Any ideas what she can do to get him to stop or who she can contact for further help… she’s thought about putting him down because she feels he’s untrainable at his age… PLEASE help!!!

    1. If he’s being destructive and chewing then what you said sounds about right. It sound like either separation anxiety or boredom or a combination of the two. Your daughter should consider bringing in a certified professional dog trainer for an in home evaluation. The trainer can assess the situation and setup a program to help her dog. I would not consider putting a dog down for chewing and being destructive. Every dog is different and it’s quite possible this dog requires more attention than your daughter can offer at this time. If that’s the case she might consider contacting local rescue organizations. A good place to start is PetFinder.com. Good luck to you and your daughter.

  7. Being aggressive and impulsive are some of the alter egos of a dog. But I am very thankful that you have discussed some precautionary measures to calm dogs. The six step-by-step plan is very systematic. Though it is not easy but it will surely give my dog an assurance of improvements and progress. Another thing, I couldn’t forget the trainings you tackled. These two give me options when I can’t think of possible way to develop my dog’s behaviour. And lastly, I want to give you a two thumbs up for the effort of printable PDF. I know it is not your requirement but you shared it in freewill. Very much thanks for that.

  8. Great article, thank you for taking the time to write this up and share! I have often found that your point number 1 about exercise is one of the best places to start with this type of behavior. Getting rid of all that energy and putting it to good use really does do the trick a lot of the time and will provide you with a calmer doggo.

    1. Yes! I think getting your dog ample exercise both mentally and physically is one of the most important things you can do to have a better behaved dog. Thanks for stopping by.

    1. I’m glad you found the article helpful. We’re still working with Raven and she’s doing better now that we have a set plan for her. One of the most important areas we focused on was when guests come over and the holidays was a great time to practice. Putting her on tie down and giving her a bully stick worked wonders for calming her energy when guests were entering the house. I hope some of the tips help with your dog/puppy.

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