All About Self Control

What is it? 

Your dog has to wait for the cookie to come to him. Your goal is to slowly move the cookie closer and closer to your dog’s nose whilst he holds himself still.

Why is it an important skill? 

Your dog learns self-control by waiting for good things to happen. This is one example of a control exercise that is good to practice for the first year of the dog’s life (and thereafter if your dog still needs to work on self-control).

How to teach it?

  1. You can be sitting for this exercise. Show your dog a cookie and hold it up at shoulder height. As soon as your dog holds still, mark (click or say “yes”) and quickly reward him with that cookie. It doesn’t matter what position your dog is in, you are marking him for being still.
  2. Once your dog begins to settle into the exercise, you can slowly begin moving the cookie towards him. If he moves towards the cookie, then the cookie goes way back up to shoulder height.
  3. If your puppy makes two mistakes in a row by trying to go for the cookie, then you’ve made the exercise too hard too quickly. Go back, and make the exercise easier.

What is it?

Your dog learns to enter a holding pattern until she is given
permission to go do the next thing. It will become one of your most used cues.

Why is it an important skill?

It’s a safety issue. Puppies often move at the speed of light, and are getting into trouble without even realizing it. Wait is another piece to the self-control puzzle.

How to teach it:

"Wait" with the crate

  1. Throw a cookie into the crate, and let him chase in after it. Briefly close the door.
  2. As you put your hand on the latch to open it, raise your other hand and hold it with your palm flat facing the puppy (as though you’re a policeman controlling traffic). Say, “wait”.
  3. Then continue to unlatch the door and remove your hand signal. If your puppy rushes towards the door as it opens, simply close and re-latch the door and start again. You are showing your puppy that staying in the crate causes the door to open and approaching the door causes it to close.
  4. Once you have the door completely open, say, “Wait” one more time, and then release your puppy to join you. Your release word can be anything you choose (Common choices include “Ok”, “Let’s go”, “Break”, “Done”). 

“Wait” at the outside door:

  1. Follow similar steps as in crate training. This time leash your puppy, and go with your puppy to the door. Say ”Wait” as you reach for the doorknob. This time, as both your hands are occupied, you can use your body to block the puppy from moving forward.
  2. Do not release your puppy until the door is wide open. If your puppy goes for the door whilst you are still opening it, then immediately close it while saying “Wait” again.

“Wait” in the car:

  1. Whether your dog is crated in your car or not, you still need a solid “wait” cue before releasing your puppy from your vehicle. As you open the car door to fetch your puppy out of it, say, “Wait” and then use your body to block the dog from pushing past you and give your police officer signal. Then leash him up, and say, “Wait” again. Your puppy needs to wait until you release him by saying your release cue.
  2. Do not release your puppy until the car door is wide open. If your puppy goes for the door whilst you are still opening it, then immediately use your body to block and then close the door while saying “Wait” again.