Quick dog training 5-minute ritual

Dog Impulse Control Behavior: Who’s in Control? You or Your Dog?

Dog impulse control is a common problem

Good manners are not hard to come by. If you have a dog who can’t seem to “wait,” seems to ignore everything you say and lunges forward to take action, or can’t resist doing a dumpster dive into your kitchen trash, you may be dealing with a dog impulse control issue. It may sound like bad behavior that might be too overwhelming for you to handle. Yet, this is a job you can tackle.

Is your dog a jumping jack?

You’ve seen this dog. He’s super-excited at the sound of anyone approaching the front door and can’t help himself. As soon as the door is open, he’s all over them, jumping, pawing, and barking. If you have a puppy, or an unruly, untrained dog exhibiting this bad dog behavior, what do you do? Clearly, your furry darling has a huge problem with impulse control. Worse, he won’t calm down and he won’t listen. Or maybe in all his excitement, he simply doesn’t hear you. What you don’t do is ignore the problem and hope it will go away.

You give them attention but make sure it’s the right sort of attention. Dealing with a puppy is much like having a toddler around nonstop.  Puppies have unabashed enthusiasm and enormous curiosity about the world around them and, yes, they are hugely excitable. What they don’t have is good manners. They simply don’t know how to check themselves. They haven’t been taught. This is a learned behavior, but don’t worry. It will take a bit of time but you can teach your dog good manners.

The goal is not for you to be the enforcer but for you to teach them to control themselves.

Dogs who lack good manners

Obviously, puppies lack self-control and haven’t had the chance to learn any good behavior. Little dogs often exhibit this behavior not only when they are a puppy but as they grow older, particularly if they haven’t been trained and pet parenting has been lacking. Yet even your beloved little prince or princess can become totally out of control to the point where you wonder whether they were ever trained at all. When that happens, it is usually because you’ve stopped any and all reinforcement. Now the dog takes the lead. But, honestly, this can happen with any dog at any age if you fail to give them attention and fail to reinforce their skills.

Even if you have your furry friend trained by someone else, you should expect to reinforce the training if you want to have a happy, healthy relationship with your dog.  And if there’s one thing I know about dogs, it’s that they love rituals and like consistency.

This 5-minute training ritual reinforces good dog impulse control

The problem is that many of us wait until the bad dog behavior escalates to a point when we absolutely have to address it and must do it right away. The sad thing is that the whole issue could be avoided by spending five minutes a day reinforcing your dog’s training. This not only reminds them of what they know and what they learned but also helps your dog to continue bonding with you. Your dog loves you and wants to please you. You want him to have good manners.

Teaching your dog good manners is a good thing

Reinforcing training is not a punishment. It’s a loving response to your dog’s bad behavior. When your pet is excitable and has dog impulse control issues, you want to respond immediately.  You take the sting out of the training by simply spending 5-10 minutes a day with your dog running through the basic training commands of sit, stay, wait, and come.

The key is for you to be happy and emotionally responsive to your dog whenever your dog correctly completes a command. Make your tone of voice slightly higher and lighter so that you’re urging your dog along when you are doing the walks in between the sits, stays, and waits. This helps encourage them to meet your expectations.

Is the bad dog behavior all your dog’s fault?

You may think your dog has forgotten the basic commands but not necessarily. Often we become lax and are not consistent in our response to bad behavior, including a dog’s noncompliance with a command. It’s not that they forget. Quite simply, they don’t think it’s important anymore because it doesn’t mean as much to you.  You lapse. They lapse.

If needed, immediately add any command to the daily 5-minute routine when you notice your dog is having a sluggish response. I will take my dogs through a quick routine of the same simple round of commands every day and monitor their responses. If needed, we make a course correction right then and do a bit of practice right then.

The most important thing to remember when doing any training is to be sure you end the practice on a high note when the dog has done something right. You immediately respond with heightened emotion giving him or her praise so that your pet knows you are so happy with the way your dog responded. Also, give them a couple of small treats and use this as training exercise play so that your dog will look forward to it each and every day.

Dog Impulse control training class is in session.
Teddy (Left) with Baby, Freddie & Charlie.

My naughty little Shih Tsu’s bad dog behavior

When I moved back home to take care of my elderly parents, I decided several of the dogs needed a refresher course and sent them to a dog trainer for a couple of weeks who did wonders. Everything went along fine for a couple of years, then my Shih Tsu started acting up. He got to the point where it felt like he was deliberately not obeying the commands. I’m sure that was my emotional response at the time, but that’s how it felt. So I called the trainer and he told me to bring him back for a visit.

Teddy proves me wrong

When we got to the trainer’s home, I was busy complaining, telling him about all the things Teddy had been doing wrong. The trainer listened for a few minutes, then took the lead and led Teddy through his paces. That little dog looked up at him and fell in line. He immediately got back behind the trainer’s heel, then he straightened that fluffy tail, held his chin up, and started promenading up and down the circle drive completing each and every command to perfection!

The trainer smiled and gave the lead back to me and waved his hand for me to do the same. Teddy did another perfect round. To say that I was embarrassed was an understatement. I was then quizzed on how much reinforcement I had been doing and I had to admit I had dropped the ball. With a gentle admonition for me to take Teddy home and reinstate the morning 5-minute training sessions, I was soon on my home. I learned a lot that day.

Remember the primary dog training rule

Consistency is your friend. Let’s get this out in the open: all dogs are not the same. Each one has its own particular personality with a combination of good and bad traits. Like children, if you fail to be consistent in your dealings with your dog, he or she just might take over and take control or simply ignore the commands and follow their instincts. What you want it to continue to bond with your pet and continue to build a loving relationship where you both enjoy each other’s company.

One thing

Before you decide your dog is simply not following commands because he or she is a bad dog, make sure there’s not a  health issue going on. It may not be a dog impulse control issue. My Pug, Charlie, has always been a good little boy and suddenly he wasn’t. After watching him for a few days, I realized that he was having vision problems. The vet confirmed the diagnosis. Since then, his vision has gotten worse but we’ve worked out some new training to help him do some new extra steps he now needs to take. Freddie, my little terrier began having hearing problems and that required some changes but we managed — and so will you.

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