In human psychology, impulse control refers to peoples’ ability to delay gratification or resist their immediate desires, impulses or temptations that could harm them or others. In short, impulse control means self-control or self-restraint.
The general goal of all dog training is to teach our pets impulse control. We want them to resist their immediate desires and, instead, comply with our cues or commands. Accomplishing this allows us to keep our pets under control, ensuring their safety and comfort, as well as the safety and comfort of others. For example, dogs who have been taught to come when called or to wait a moment for permission to go through doors can be kept safe from many dangers, such as getting lost or hit by cars. Likewise, dogs that have been taught to sit politely to greet people won’t jump up and injure or upset them.
Sitting Before Leash Being Attached & Going Outside
Does your dog go banana’s when the leash comes out of the closet or drawer when its time to go out for their daily walks?
Dogs learn by association, which means that your dog is being rewarded for getting excited every time the leash comes out. This is because, even though your dog is excited to go out, you still hook up their leash and proceed to go outdoors as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, your dogs behavior was ultimately rewarded by going outdoors – which is what they wanted to do in the first place!
Take a step back and look at the bigger picture. Your dog wants to go outside, and we need the dog to remain calm while attaching leash… So how do we get there?
By changing the association of the leash of course!
The value of the leash is high for your dog. Your dog knows that when the leash comes out that the reward is to go outdoors. (Best place ever!) So we need to change that association to reflect calmness.
So How Do We Get There?
1) Alternate the location of your leash. By putting the leash back in the same spot each time, your dog will quickly figure out that when you walk towards the drawer that is walk time! So place it in different spots around the house to begin with.
2) Reach towards your dogs leash – if your dog gets all excited, walk away from the leash. (Repeat as necessary)
3) Once you are able to pick up the leash, ask your dog to sit. Try to use your cue only one time – hand signal or verbal.
4) Attach the leash.
5) For this next step you can either let the dog wander around with the leash attached for a couple minutes, or you can unclip and repeat the previous steps as needed.
6) Remember – The ultimate goal is to outside. Repeat the previous steps a few times and on the best & fastest response, you will proceed outdoors for your walk.
7) Try doing this several times a day – Even if you are not going out on a walk. It will help your dog understand, just because the leash has been brought out, it doesn’t mean you are going outside just yet.
Your dog will soon start to realize that when his bum is on the floor and he is remaining calm, that is when he gets to go outside. Patience is key to this exercise. It may take a few repetitions before your dog starts to piece it all together.
Waiting At Doorway
By teaching your dog to wait at the door and not bolting out can be a potentially life saving skill.
Your dogs understanding of the door right now is that if the door opens, he is allowed to leave. Wrong! We must change the idea that when the door is open, your dog must remain behind the door until we release the dog by the word “Okay.”
So How Do We Get There?
1) Start by attaching your dogs leash to his collar. (This is for added safety).
2) Once the dog is calm and ready to go outside, start to open the door.
3) If the dog moves toward the door, close the door back over and use your counter command such as “Ah-ah” or “”Oops” to let the dog know that wasn’t correct.
4) Once your dog backs away or sits back down, try to open the door again.
5) If the dog stands up or moves towards the doorway, repeat by closing the door.
6) Once the door is fully open, say “Okay” and proceed through the doorway for your walk. You do not need to reward with treats, as the reward is to go outside!
7) Practice this on the door leading to the backyard. The value to go outside is still there, so its a great opportunity to practice impulse control for going into the backyard as well!
Remember: Going outside is very exciting for your dog. So this skill may take a few repetitions before your dog starts to understand how it really works.
Be patient – It will be worth it in the long run!
Written by Lauren Hurley, RDAII, DCBCE – Owner Kayenna Kennels & Training Services