The word “impulse” refers to the strong urge to act upon a whim, and people with poor impulse control can have a tendency to make poor decisions when it comes to their health and safety. Dog owners who deal with pets that jump up on anyone who walks in the door, race out of the house or car door the second it’s opened, or snatch food off the counter are intimately familiar with poor impulse control in their pet and the ways in which it negatively affects the lives of everyone in the household.
Although many pets naturally act on their desires and urges, a lack of self control can put them in harm’s way by overriding any sense of their own safety or comfort. Improving your dog’s impulse control takes time and patience, but the end result is a confident, calmer, and much safer best pal.
Improving Your Dog’s Impulse Control
Just like toddlers, our dogs can be taught that polite behavior is much more effective when it comes to getting what they want. In order to effectively increase a dog’s impulse control, it’s important to identify exactly what it is the dog wants, and to only give it to them when they have demonstrated the behavior you wish to see.
For example, if your dog routinely jumps, barks, or paws at you when you get the leash out for the daily walk, then your job is to make the walk itself a reward for good behavior. Wait patiently until your dog calms down before you attach the leash, each and every time. Eventually, the dog will sit patiently while you get them ready to go instead of causing a ruckus.
Daily life with a dog affords plenty of opportunities to practice patience and politeness, for instance you can teach your dog to sit and wait for your cue before:
- Eating a meal
- Coming out of the crate
- Jumping in and out of the car
- Greeting guests who enter the home (this requires waiting until your dog is calm before giving attention whenever you or other family members come home)
It’s important to keep in mind that yelling and punishment are not recommended methods of teaching self control. Positive reinforcement and rewarding good behavior are much more effective and support the bond between you and your pet.
Keep Calm and Carry On
Besides consistency, staying calm and composed is absolutely essential to effective training. Dogs sense and feed off of our emotions, and an owner who is frustrated, yelling, etc., will only increase a dog’s excitability.
Union Lake Pet Services is proud to employ professional, certified trainers that can help your dog achieve any training goal through humane, positive reinforcement training. Please give us a call for more details!