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Is your dog lacking in impulse control?

Impulse control, or lack thereof, contribute to many common behaviour issues from jumping, door dashing, counter surfing, social humping and even lead pulling. So how do you teach your dog to have good impulse control? Through training and play. Yes I said play. If your dog likes to fetch, or tug then a simple method is to teach your dog to sit or down then wait before you re engage in play. For example; dog brings back ball, drops ball. You then require your dog to sit. You pick up the ball and when, in the beginning it is when, not if. When the dog gets up you say no and wait for them to sit again. When they do, have them remain sitting for two seconds then throw the ball. Slowly increase the time you expect them to sit until they can wait for one minute. The idea here is that the dog learns that sitting and waiting is what makes the game continue. So not only are you eliminating your dog accidently nipping you out of excitement while jumping for the ball, you are also teaching them that good things come when they display calm behaviour.

Now, you may be asking why do I want my dog to be calm during play. Well, there are a number of reasons. Perhaps your dog is one that gets overstimulated and becomes too rough or re directs displaced excitement towards other dogs or people. Social humping is a great example of non aggressive displaced excitement. By teaching impulse control during play, we start to teach alternative behaviours and that leads to the dog making better choices. Remember that impulse control is not the only thing that needs to be taught in order to resolve displaced excitement. But it is a fantastic place to start.

This is just one example of one scenario. There are a number of different exercises that should be used as teaching with only one scenario does not create a dog with impulse control in various areas of life. You must teach impulse control in each scenario where you dog struggles for them to understand that the rules of calmness apply there as well. The overall lesson that needs to be taught is that overall calm behaviours lead to good things happening! As always, if you are struggling with any of these behaviours with your dog, please seek out the help of a qualified trainer.

Happy training

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