Teaching Your Puppy Impulse Control

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Let’s face it, puppies are like toddlers -- when they want something, they want it NOW! Self-control, or impulse control, is perhaps one of the most important life skills that you can teach your puppy. In their new book, The Focused Puppy, Deborah Jones and Judy Keller explain how you can teach your puppy to be patient through the “Sloooow Treats” exercise. This exercise teaches your pup that waiting for what he wants pays off better than trying to take it on his own.

Puppy awaiting a treat

“Begin this exercise using a low-value treat, such as your pup’s kibble. Have a clicker in one hand and a cookie in the other. Show your pup the cookie to get his attention, then raise it up about 18 inches (toward your shoulder), so he is looking up toward it. If he holds still, click and quickly move the treat down to your pup’s mouth before he has a chance to jump up and grab it. The whole purpose of this exercise is for the cookie to move to the pup, not for the pup to move toward the cookie. If your pup is successful at this level, you can begin very slowly and continuously to move the cookie toward your pup. In each repetition, move the cookie about an inch closer. You want to click very quickly in the first few repetitions to help your pup be successful." 

For more tips on teaching impulse control and other strategies for raising a happy, focused puppy, pick up The Focused Puppy, new in the clickertraining.com store!

vi assistance dogs's picture

impulse contol

Just taught a form of zen to a neighbors (two kids plus dad) who has a 1 yo coonhound. Dad was chasing dog down street and inot our yard when I first spotted them. I took a treat bag, crouched and dog came running over while I calmly and gently took hold of collar.

Sadly, this same pup barks and howls all day as its left outside since it is still not house trained! This is my third interaction with the pup (the first a week after they got it and it was crying all the time outside in the yard since a vet had told them to 'let it cry itself out'.)

So far they have ignored any ideas, but maybe they might continue with this one since the kids are involved! I gave ideas on how to extend zen to toys, greeting people and other dogs too. Lovable happy social dog but zero impulse control.