Impulse control is something that all dogs should have and we are hopefully moving closer to a higher level of impulse control through our training efforts. By impulse control I am referring to the ability to resist the urge to dart, bolt, lunge, or carry on at the first opportunity presented to a dog.
Examples of a lack of impulse control would be bolting in or out of a crate as soon as the door is opened, waiting for permission before attacking the food dish as soon as it’s presented, attempting to squeeze their entire body out of the back door when it’s only had the chance to open two inches, approaching the back of an SUV and jumping into a closed tailgate head first, and bolting down the front steps of the house or apartment because it’s so exciting to be outside. All of these behaviors, and so many others, can be managed and eventually eliminated by teaching your dog impulse control. Just as with many cases of managing our dogs, obedience is the answer to all of this. Here are a few tips on building impulse control:
Sit your dog – Putting your dog into a stationary position and keeping them there is incompatible with the bolting, lunging, and pushiness. Sit your dog before you put their food down and have them remain there until you release them. Sit your dog as you open the back door and release them when you’re ready. Sit your dog as you open the gate of your vehicle and then tell them to load up.
Use Heel – Having your dog travel through doorways or down steps with you will force them to pay attention to your walking speed and maintain a proper position relative to your body. By walking next to you, they can’t bolt, the can’t pull you down the stairs, and they will leave the home already focused. Remember, your walk starts before you leave the home.
Close off that doggie door – Many dogs that have dog doors are not conditioned to wait for anything, they are able to travel and move with complete freedom. Many do fine with this but when you take away the ability to move freely, some dogs panic and lose all ability to function normally.
Place your dog – Teaching a rock solid place may not seem like an obvious advantage to some owners, but this is probably one of the most important skills for your dogs to have. Self-control, impulse control, mental stability, and functional obedience all come from placeboard work. In addition, all of those skills are heavy used to solve a ton of other behavior issues as well.
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