wild child dog
Let’s Talk About… The “Wild Child”


The “Wild Child” is the dog that jumps on everyone, mouths everyone, refuses to listen or comply, pushes you out of the way, embarrasses you in public, and all that other good stuff.

They will almost always bring out the frustration in you, which unfortunately feeds their wildness. I’ve had a wild child and I believe she came into my life to teach me patience. The more aggravated I would get the worse she would behave.

Often the wild child is very intelligent and when bored acts out in order to engage you. Mental exercise can be much more important than physical. Teaching your dog new tricks/commands, running them through all the things they know in a fast pace for several minutes a couple of times a day, taking them somewhere new to experience new sights, sounds and smells can be very effective in tiring your dog.

Think of your wild child dog like they are a product of the foster care system and have had no consistency, security, structure while in the system. If you were to be a foster parent to a toddler like that you would establish rules and boundaries pretty quickly (you wouldn’t let that toddler go through your house opening drawers roaming around unsupervised, or eat marshmallows for dinner, or shove you out of the way to get out a door, or punch a guest in your home).

So, here are some thoughts on dealing with a wild child:

  • Patience
  • Establish, maintain and reinforce structure/rules 24/7. Some of my dog’s rules are down/wait until released to eat, door opens you look to me for what you should do, car door opens you do nothing until I tell you what to do, no pushing past me, crate on command, and several more
  • Be consistent. Don’t cave in or give up on a rule, boundary or requirement because the dog is acting out.
  • When you ask your dog to do something the whole world stops until they comply, and when they do comply you need to acknowledge the accomplishment and avoid having a “I’m not giving you anything because you took too long” state of mind.
  • Dog works for every single thing they get–food, affection, play, car rides, everything they consider of value
  • Control space and movement: Use body blocking/bumping to control space and movement. You can leave a leash on the dog at all times so if they manage to shove past you can take the leash, turn around and walk them back to where they were and try again.
  • More patience
  • Teach your dog the ‘place’ or ‘on your mat’ command.
  • Keep training sessions short and fun. Avoid working ‘sit’, ‘down’, etc. over and over and over. Do 2 or 3 and end it.
  • And finally… Patience!

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