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Why is my dog out of control?

Why is my dog out of control?

If you have been having a hard time getting your dog under control, you’re probably wondering why and what you can do about it. In this post, I will show you common causes of dogs being out of control and what you can do to stop it.

So, why is my dog out of control?

Possible reasons why your dog is out of control are that it’s looking for attention, that you have accidentally been rewarding the behavior, command nagging, fear, not enough exercise, not enough training or being in a new location. 

And, how can I get my dog to calm down?

The first thing is to make sure that it gets enough exercise as this can influence its behavior.

Next, you’ll want to start giving it basic training in an environment where there are not many distractions and to build up from there.

You can also do positive reinforcement training, you can ignore its attention seeking behavior and you can give it lots of toys to be distracted with. 

Your dog could be behaving that way for many different reasons and it might be due to a combination of them. However, there are a number of things you can consider when figuring out the main reason and there are a number of things you can do about it.

Possible reasons why your dog is out of control

Below are some common causes of dog being out of control and what would make them more likely.

Insufficient exercise

Most dog breeds are meant to get daily exercise. When most dogs do not get enough exercise it can cause them to start being much more energetic and difficult to manage. It could be the case that your dog needs more exercise which would be more likely if it is harder to control on days when it has not gotten exercise.

Attention seeking

Another cause might be that it does it to get extra attention from you. This would be more likely if it tends to behave that way when you have not been giving it attention and you tend to give it extra attention when it does it.

Instead, it would help to give it attention when it is being well behaved, to wait for it to calm down before giving it attention and to give it lots of positive reinforcement training to change its behavior.

Punishment

If you typically punish your dog when it misbehaves, it might be the reason why it is hard to control. One of the reasons for that is that if you punish your dog, it might think that you are punishing it for something different.

For example, if your dog bolts out the door and you punish it when it comes back then it will likely think that you are punishing it for the last thing that it did which was to come back to you. This is why this method of training doesn’t normally work. It can also cause other problems such as fear, aggression, anxiety, distrust, and destruction.

An alternative strategy would be to do lots of positive reinforcement training instead. This is why you train your dog by rewarding it for doing the things that you want it to do or at least for making steps in the right direction.

Fear

The cause of your dog’s behavior could be because it is scared of what will happen. If your dog thinks that it will be punished by you then it will make it less likely to listen to you.

Training

The reason why your dog is out of control might also be due to a lack of training. Dogs do not understand language like we do. Just telling it to “come here” is not going to do much if it has not been taught what that means through specific training for that command.

This is why it is important to take the time to teach your dog to do the things that you want it to do. You should start with the basics in an easy environment and then work your way up to harder tasks and environments from there.

Location

If you can get your dog to listen to you in one location but you can’t in another, don’t be discouraged since it is not unusual. When you bring your dog into a new environment it will cause it to get distracted by the things going on around it and it will not be as mindful of your command. This is why it’s important to take the time to train your dog in multiple environments.

You’ve been rewarding it

It could be that you have been inadvertently encouraging the behavior by giving it things that it wants in order to get it to calm down. It would be better to save rewards for good behavior and signs of good behavior.

Command nagging

It could also be that you have been doing something called “command nagging” which is where you repeat a command multiple times despite it not working the first time. When this happens, take a step back and train it to do what you want again starting at an earlier step or even the beginning.

How to stop your dog being out of control

Below are some options you have when getting your dog to be easier to control.

Training

To get your dog to listen to you more it will be necessary to give it lots of training.

Training your dog will have a number of benefits. It will make it more responsive to your command so you will be able to get it to stop misbehaving more easily. It will make things easier for you in social situations where you need your dog to behave. It will also help you to have a more rewarding relationship with your dog.

You should start by teaching it the basics such as to sit and stay in an environment where there are not many distractions. Then you can build up to teaching it harder things such as to come when you call it.

If your dog is quite energetic then giving it some exercise before you start training it should help to make it more focused on you when you try to train it.

You can watch the video below to see how to get started on teaching your dog the basics.

Exercise

As mentioned above, it is important to give dogs exercise on a daily basis. It would help to make sure that your dog is getting the recommended daily amount of exercise for its breed and age.

Positive reinforcement

One way to get your dog to listen to you more would be to give it lots of positive reinforcement training. This is where you encourage the behaviors you want to see by rewarding your dog when it shows signs of displaying them.

For example, if you’re trying to teach it the “down” command then you would initially reward it for simply lowering its head towards the ground and then you would build up how much you require to get the treat until it goes down when you tell it to. You can see positive reinforcement training in the video above.

Don’t reward bad behavior

As mentioned above, it might be the case that you have encouraged the behavior by giving it things it wants when it behaves that way. Instead, it would help to reward it when it is behaving the way you want, to stop rewarding it when it misbehaves and to give it positive reinforcement training.

Distractions

In addition to the above, you could get your dog to vent its excess energy onto things that you don’t mind it doing it with by giving it lots of toys to play with. But, make sure to use this in conjunction with giving it training and exercise.

Get help

If you can’t get your dog to listen to you when you tell it to , consider getting help from a dog behaviorist. By doing so, you should be able to see why it has been behaving that way and how to get it to be better behaved.

Things to consider

Below are some things to consider about your dog being out of control.

Patience

When you’re training your dog to be less out of control it’s important to have a lot of patience. Changing your dog’s behavior will be a gradual thing. You might not be able to make big changes over the course of days but over the course of months, you can. So, it will help you a lot to approach it with a long-term focus.

Consistency

It’s also important to be very consistent with your training. If you train it to do something but then neglect to follow up on that training in the weeks following then your progress will likely be slow.

Its age

If your dog is still young then it is likely that you will be able to get it to calm down a lot as it gets older. To maximize how well behaved it becomes as an adult it’s still important to take the time now to make sure that it gets lots of training.

When it first started acting out of control

If your dog has not always behaved that way, it would help to consider what else happened when it first started doing it since it might be the case that there was an event that caused it to start.

If it started doing it suddenly, it could be due to things such as getting less exercise, a change in its diet, a stressful event or an injury.

When it tends to be out of control

It would also help to consider the timing of when it tends to start being out of control since the timing might also have something to do with it.

For example, if it tends to do it when it eats a certain food, it might be the case that it has something to do with what it ate. Whereas, if it does it more when you are about to leave home, it could be due to separation anxiety.

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