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Saturday, March 8, 2014

Impulse Control

Dogs who have impulse control are not only easier to live with, but they also tend to be happier and less stressed. How do we help a dog have impulse control? 

We can teach them some easy behaviors, then ask for those behaviors before giving the dog something he/she desires.

Ask for a "sit" before putting down the food bowl
Ask for a "wait" before opening the door
Ask for a "high five" before giving an ear scritch

The key to making impulse control fun for the dog is making training fun and easy for the dog. We should only ask for what we think the dog can give.

Example. Puddin and I worked on "wait" at doorways at home and at her training facility and she was excellent.  I decided I wanted to also try to ask her to wait before entering the dog park.  But I knew this would be difficult for her (so many distractions). So I tried something that might have been a little easier.  I waited by the closed gate until she gave me a nano second of eye contact, then I opened the gate. My plan was to slowly work up to 3 seconds of eye contact (over a period of several days), then ask for a sit. But on the third day, she sat all on her own. Since I knew she could it, I started asking for sits from that day on.

Pet parents should also make sure that all training is "hands off" - i.e. no pushing on the butt to teach sit, no scolding nor "no-reward-markers" when a dog doesn't comply. Just go back to a point where you were successful in your training and make it easier for the dog.

Once you have a dog with impulse control, you will notice a reduction in undesirable behaviors like jumping up.

Tell us about your dog's impulse control issues in the comments section below.

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