I’m so excited

Doggie Dialogues
By Doris Dressler

“I'm so excited
And I just can't hide it
I'm about to lose control and I think I like it.”
The Pointer Sisters, “I’m So Excited”

Is your dog a fan of this 1982 Pointer Sisters’ hit?
Lack of self-control is commonly referred to as lack of impulse control. Babies are not born with impulse control but learn from their parents. Puppies, like children, also need to learn impulse control. It’s up to their owners to teach them this skill.

Most dog owners already have taught their dogs cues that promote impulse control: sit, stay, down, wait and leave it. High-energy dogs need frequent practice to maintain these skills.

Games are a great, fun way to train your dog. And what dog doesn’t enjoying interacting with his owner? Here is a list of impulse control games you can play with your dog.

Airplane sit-stay
This game not only teaches your dog impulse control but also discourages jumping.

  • Ask your dog to sit in front of you.
  • Pull a treat out from behind your back and hold it above your dog’s head.
  •  Slowly lower the treat towards your dog.
  •  If your dog jumps up for the treat, raise the treat back up and wait for your dog to sit.
  •  Try lowering the treat again; every time the dog jumps up, the treat goes up.
  •  Your dog will eventually figure out that sitting, not jumping, results in his getting the treat.

Watch me
This game teaches your dog that making eye contact with you will get the treat.

  • Start out by having your dog sit facing you.
  • Take a treat out of your pocket and move the treat from your dog’s nose to your nose and then out to the side, extending your arm to the left or right.
  • In all likelihood, your dog’s eyes will be glued to the treat you are holding to the side.
  1. Ask your dog to “watch me.”
  • When your dog’s eyes finally move from the treat to your face, immediately praise and reward the treat.
  • In time, your dog will learn that making eye contact with you, not the treat, results in the reward.

Walk, don’t run
This game teaches your dog that walking nicely next to you and not pulling on the leash will result in getting the food or toy.

  •  Place your dog’s favorite toy or food treat on the ground where it can be seen.
  •  With your dog on leash, back about 20 feet away from the item.
  •  Slowly approach the item.
  •  If your dog pulls, stop, get your dog’s attention and call him back to your side, going back to your starting point.
  • Try approaching again. Every time your dog pulls, stop, call him back to your side and start over.
  • Eventually your dog will figure out that walking nicely with you towards the item, not pulling, gets the treat.

Leave it (using your hand)
This game teaches your dog all good things do come to those who wait.

  •  Start out with your dog sitting in front of you.
  •  Load up one of your hands with food and close it into a fist.
  •  Allow your dog to sniff that hand but keep it closed.
  •  When the dog backs away, even for a brief second, open the hand and let him see the food.
  • If he goes for the food, close your fist.
  • Do this over and over until your dog figures out that going for the food results in your hand closing into a fist.
  • When your dog figures this out and sits – even for a second – reward with a treat out of that hand.
  • Continue playing this game, gradually requiring the dog to wait longer periods of time before rewarding with a treat.

Practice makes perfect. Happy training!

Doris Dressler is a CPDT-KA (certified professional dog trainer, knowledge assessed) with over 16 years’ experience training service dogs and family pet dogs. She also volunteers training rescued dogs at Big Canoe Animal Rescue.



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