Impulse control can be described as self-control for your dog. Teaching your dog to have self-control can be useful in many situations! Impulse control helps your dog to wait patiently for things that he really wants. It can also help him learn to stay calm when exciting things happen. Impulse control is a wonderful and simple behavior to teach any dog. Discussed below are several simple training techniques to help teach impulse control to your pet.
Exercise 1: Crate and Doorway Rushing
- When you initially enter the area where your dog’s crate is located or when you go to the doorway, give your dog a few minutes to settle down.
- Once he is settled, ask the dog for a sit or down.
- When the dog is in the sit or down position, slowly open the door.
- If the dog gets up to go through the door, close the door and ask him to sit or down.
- Repeat opening the door; if he gets up, place him back into the sit or down.
- Initially, you may need to repeat these steps multiple times before the dog will stay in the desired position until the door is open. As you continue the training, the number of times your dog needs to be reminded will decrease.
- Once the door is open, give your dog his release command, and allow him to come through the door.
Exercise 2: Cookies in a Fist
- Place low-value treats, such as kibble, in your closed fist, and place your fist in front of your dog’s nose.
- Your dog is going to try to paw, lick, and nose your fist to get to the treats, but don’t give in! Just ignore his attempts.
- As soon as your dog stops trying to mug your hand for treats, reward him with a treat from the other hand. Once you notice that your dog starts leaving your fist alone when presented, you can move on to the next step.
- Now present your fist with the low-value treats in it. If the dog ignores your fist, slowly open your palm to reveal the treats. If your dog rushes your hand, quickly close your fist. When your dog can leave the open hand full of cookies alone, reward with a treat from the opposite hand. When your dog can reliably leave the treats in your open hand, you can move on to the next step.
- Now with your fist open revealing the treats, slowly take a treat from that hand and reward the dog. If your dog rushes for the treat, quickly close your fist. Once your dog waits patiently for you to deliver the treat, he can receive the reward.
Exercise 3: Waiting For a Meal
- Place your dog in a sit or a down and reward with a food treat.
- Slowly begin to place the food bowl in front of your dog. If he gets up or lunges for the food, stand back up and place the dog back into a sit or down. Attempt to place the bowl down again.
- Once you are able to place the bowl on the ground, cover the bowl with your hands. If the dog begins to try to nudge your hands for the food, continue to cover the bowl. If your dog is still staying in his desired position, slowly remove your hands. If he lunges for the bowl, cover the bowl back up and try again.
- Once you are able to place the bowl on the ground and uncover it, with your dog staying in position, give a release command and allow him to eat.
Exercise 4: Waiting For Treat
- Place your dog in a sit and reward him.
- Have another treat in your hand held several feet vertically above the dog’s head.
- Slowly lower the treat toward your dog’s mouth. If your dog gets up or lunges for the treat, pull your hand up and place the dog back in a sit. Do not reward.
- Repeat this motion until you can bring your hand and the treat several inches in front of your dog’s mouth. At this point, if your dog is still sitting quietly, you can reward him with the treat.
- Next, repeat this exercise, but with your hand several feet away, horizontally in front of your dog. Same rules apply: if your dog gets up and lunges toward the treat, place him back in a sit and try again.
- If your dog loves to play, try this exercise with a toy, too!