How to Stop a Tantrum With a Dog

by Chris Miksen
    Trying to take your pup's precious toy can spark a furious fit.

    Trying to take your pup's precious toy can spark a furious fit.

    Hemera Technologies/ Images

    Toddlers aren't the only ones prone to little fits of rage when something doesn't go their way. Your cute little canine has what seems like an angry side to him when he becomes frustrated. Maybe he throws a fit when you don't let him greet another dog or when you brush his furry butt. Whatever his reasons, a few strategies should help put the kibosh on his tantrums.

    Step 1

    Tell your pup to lay or sit. One of the most effective ways of snapping your dog out of his craziness is by issuing a command he responds well to. The second he throws his little tantrum, give an authoritative, "sit" or "lay" or whatever word you use for the respected commands. As long as your dog knows what those commands mean and typically responds to them, he'll likely listen even when he's acting out. The exception to this is when he's throwing a tantrum in response to another dog or strange person.

    Step 2

    Walk away if the tantrum is stimuli-induced. If your pup gets way too excited or angry when he sees another dog or person, he'll pull, bark, growl, throw himself around and generally act like an escapee from a canine insane asylum. Commands often fail to generate results, mostly because the dogs in question are so focused on what has their attention that they block out everything else. If this is the case with your pup, turn around and walk the other way. Take another path or dodge behind a building, bush or anything else that either block's your pup's line of sight or puts you so far away from the stimulus that he's no longer going crazy.

    Step 3

    Hold your little guy in place, and don't let go until he stops his outburst. Only do this with a puppy or small dog. Keeping a 90-pound German shepherd still when he's freaking out isn't a good idea. Let's say your puppy becomes very frustrated with you when you attempt to clip his nails. He tries to bite you, growl and wriggle out of your grasp. If you release him when he's throwing his fit, he makes a connection between the tantrum and getting what he wanted, so he'll do it again in the future. Hold him with a firm hand until he quits raging. Do not give in.

    Step 4

    Ignore your pup. The stand up, look away and ignore method works wonders when you have a pup who decides to throw a tantrum when you're playing with him. He might get frustrated when you play tug-of-war or when you don't throw his ball the second you grab it from his mouth. If he wants to bark excessively, nip at you and growl, end play time. Walk away or turn around, and don't acknowledge him. Not only will this put an end to his tantrum, it will discourage him from throwing future fits.

    Step 5

    Remain calm at all times. Whatever strategy you choose to put an end to your pup's tantrums, always do so in a relaxed and calm manner. Puffing up your chest, yelling and hovering over your dog might seem like a way to establish dominance and show him he needs to listen, but it will likely worsen his tantrum.


    • Sudden outbursts may indicate a health issue. Have a chat with your vet to rule out medical problems.
    • If you have a bigger pup who throws a tantrum outside, prepare yourself. Dig in, and only turn around when you're confident you have solid traction. If he pulls so hard that you can't control him and you're on a soft surface, such as dirt or grass, lower yourself to one knee. You'll have an easier time holding him back. Do not grab his collar. He may redirect any aggression to you.


    • If you have an adult dog who attempts to bite you when he's throwing a tantrum, do not touch him. Call a qualified trainer or contact your vet immediately. If your puppy attempts to actually bite you and not mouth you -- as the little ones do when they're teething, talk to a trainer.

    Photo Credits

    • Hemera Technologies/ Images

    About the Author

    Located in Pittsburgh, Chris Miksen has been writing instructional articles on a wide range of topics for online publications since 2007. He currently owns and operates a vending business. Miksen has written a variety of technical and business articles throughout his writing career. He studied journalism at the Community College of Allegheny County.

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