Use These Top 4 Dog Impulse Control Exercises For a Calmer Life

Teaching your dog effective impulse control habits will result in a happy and calm companion who is easy to handle. In fact, as stated by the American Kennel Club:

“If you teach your dog self-control, they will be more pleasant to live with. A patient dog is better behaved and less demanding.”

That same article goes on to explain that impulse control exercises are also good for your dog’s mental health. “Rather than feeling frustrated by their need for instant gratification, they will feel calmer and more in control of their environment” (American Kennel Club).  

Through impulse control exercises, your dog will learn how to effectively achieve their goal by abiding by your clear boundaries. Although teaching your dog how to control their impulses may sound like a chore, it can be quite fun for both you and your furry friend.

Review our Top Impulse Control Exercises and how using them regularly can help make your life with a dog all the more enjoyable! 

Watch Me Cue 

This dog impulse exercise is a great one to start with! It will teach your dog to keep an eye on you, even in an environment that is distracting. To teach your dog “watch me,” you will have them sit and then say “watch me” while pointing to your eyes. Once your dog makes eye contact, go ahead and say your chosen marker word such as “yes” and then treat, or if you are using clicker training, click and then treat.

When they get the hang of it, slowly increase the time, they keep their attention on you before you give them positive reinforcement. As your dog builds this skill, you will see that they will begin to look to you as a more desirable source for their attention. 

Leave It Cue

A new toy, a package, the rustling of grocery bags, or even the rattling of a leash can all be sources of excitement for a dog. If your dog can link a positive memory to any item, they will get excited about it. Teaching your dog to “leave it” allows you to control situations surrounding items that get your dog excited.

Teach your dog to “leave it” by training them in a controlled environment such as your home. Bring out one of their favorite toys and, before they can clamp down on the item, say, “leave it”. Once they back off and hold off for a few seconds, say your chosen marker word such as “yes” and then treat or if you are using clicker training, click and then treat. Repeat this exercise while slowly extending the time they “leave it” for maximum effect. 

Red Light/Green Light

Similar to “Leave It,” the “Red Light/Green Light” game effectively teaches dogs boundaries when it comes to leaving objects alone for short amounts of time. Check out these four easy steps to successfully play the “Red Light/Green Light” game with your dog:

Steps to Play Red Light/Green Light:

  1. Start off by bringing out a toy and getting your dog excited about playing.
  2. Then, when they are at the height of excitement, tell them to “sit.”
  3. Once they sit and hold that stance for a moment, you can give them a release word, such as “ok.” This will cue them that it is okay to go back to playing with the toy.
  4. Repeat this game over and over again until they become seamless at leaving the item alone and sitting to wait for the green light to play again.

Calm Greeting

This dog impulse control exercise may require help from friends or family! For your dog to learn how to greet others calmly, they must be taught that they will not get any type of attention from anyone coming through the front door. This goes for you, your best friend, your neighbor, your mom, and even your great-aunt. You get the picture! 

According to Pets WebMD, “If your dog notices that jumping up to greet someone gets them attention, good or bad, that might be enough to convince them to keep doing it. Dogs are easily trained to repeat the behavior if it earns them a reward, and jumping does just that.”

Using a leash for management purposes, tie your dog to a sturdy post so they can’t approach you on their own accord. This will keep them from getting overly excited and engaging in impolite greeting behaviors. Then, you can tell them to “sit” and “wait” or even “leave it” to signal that they are to calmly wait until it is their turn to engage.  Additionally, teaching and practicing settle cue works too.  

Once your dog performs the behavior and holds it for 15+ seconds, you can reward them with the warm attention they crave. Slowly increase the time your dog has to wait to effectively train them to be polite while greeting others. When your dog masters this behavior with you, you can then introduce guests to the exercise for an even tougher challenge.

Key Takeaways for Impulse Control Training

Teaching your dog impulse control will create a stress-free atmosphere for both you and your pet. In addition, it will improve the quality of your social life as you won’t have to worry about your dog misbehaving when visitors arrive. 

Visit our Pawsitive K9 Solutions Blog for more quality tips and advice for successfully training your dog. You may also Contact Us for more information about our Los Angeles dog training services. We offer a 90-minute consultation to help you determine what we can do to help you level up your dog’s behavior!




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