• Kate Atkins

Feeling out of control with your dog?




Feeling out of control with your dog is one of the worst feelings, you just can’t understand why your dog is displaying these behaviours and you feel like they are doing it to wind you up or to just be naughty. It’s frustrating and upsetting. However it all comes down to miscommunication between you and the dog, which is what I observed 3 years ago.

I was out for a walk with my dog Teddy, he was about a 8 months old and I ended up sat on a park bench In tears because he just wouldn’t come back to me so I could put him on the lead.




Two boarding dogs had arrived and I had a short amount of time to go for a walk before I had to pop out. So I got all the dogs on lead and off we went on a walk close by. I only had about 30 mins.


When it came to putting them back on the leads the two boarding dogs came over for a food reward but Teddy had other plans. He picked up a stick (A trophy - a topic for another time) and started running towards me and the other dogs and then dodging me to get his lead on, then laying just out of reach and refused to come over to me.

He had never done this before!


He was really testing and questioning me around this situation. It became a status game to him so I took the two other dogs and starting to walk away from him. He follow but again stayed just out of reach, I continued this for quite some time ignoring him and kept changing direction and stayed calm, occasionally calling him over with a food reward.

He still refused to come to me.


I couldn’t just walk off like I wanted at there was a road. This lasted for half an hour and I had now missed an appointment. I could feel myself getting more and more frustrated.

I felt completely out of control. So I went and sat on a bench and ignored him, the frustration grew and I started to cry. ‘What kind of behaviour specialist am I that can’t even get a dog to come back to me!’


Then an old lady walked passed and said are you ok dear, feeling like an idiot I said, my dog won’t come back to put him on the lead. She said let me try, she called him over and she took his collar and handed him back to me! I could have kissed her! Phew!

I walked home still really upset feeling an utter failure and really angry at Teddy. I ignored him for the rest of the day!


At the time, it was horrendous and I felt frustrated, embarrassed, angry because I was out of control and couldn’t understand why he was doing this. However that day I actually learnt so much and once I calmed down and spoke with a lovely dog listening friend I reflected on-the whole situation and saw it from Teddy’s point of view:

  • we was still a puppy, 8 months of age going into adulthood and sussing out the rules and boundaries in our relationship.

  • their had been a big change, two new dogs had come into his home and their personalities were quite dominant so he was figuring out where he stood with them too.

  • I had gone for a walk while I was in a rush - this was the big one! Because I was in a rush, I wasn’t as calm as I could have been and wasn’t giving the attention to detail needed. Teddy could sense that and was questioning my capabilities to look after the pack.

So the one that was at fault was in fact me and I could have handled the whole situation 100% better. He hasn't done this since, because I have never put him in a situation where her needed to do this again.


Dogs are never ‘naughty’ just for the sake of it. There is always a reason behind the behaviours they display. When there is miscommunication between you both, it is easy for us to feel frustrated and angry at the dog because we feel out of control.


Control in Dog Listening is not about the dog doing something because you said so! It’s getting the dog to willingly choose to cooperate with your requests because they want to and because they have confidence in you to make the decisions.


There is a big difference and feeling to that way of thinking, and it works! A kind, calm holistic way of being with your dog - Wonderful


When was the last time you felt completely out of control with your dog? comment below and let me know I'd love to hear.



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