Teaching Your Dog Impulse Control

By Michael Albee

Teaching Your Dog Impulse Control

Teaching your dog impulse control, (self-control), is extremely important. Impulse control can be critical to their safety in many everyday situations! It teaches your dog to look to you before it reacts to any situation. Things like bolting out of the door, running across the street in front of a car, or chasing a wild animal immediately come to mind. It also teaches your dog that it needs to wait patiently for your input. After learning this valuable skill, the dog will realize that it gets something good in exchange for exhibiting self-control.

Dogs do not think about or rationalize the consequences of their actions before the do them.  Dogs simply react to what is going on in their world at that moment in time. Because of this, it is important to spend the time to teach your dog impulse control. It is actually the foundation of my dog training method.

Teaching your dog impulse control also has many everyday applications. It comes in very handy when you are teaching your dog to STAY. Impulse Control also comes in handy when you tell it “NO” or ask it to leave something alone. It also helps them learn to stay calm when exciting things happen around them. The skill of learning impulse control is how we teach a dog not to jump up on people, lunge on a walk, or bark when someone (or a dog) walks near.

Teaching Your Dog Impulse Control - Self Control

Teaching impulse control is a reasonably simple behavior to teach. It can however take some time and patience on your part. All dogs learn differently and at different rates. Your dog’s personality, pray drive, play drive and its attention span are the biggest variables in learning any new concepts and behaviors.


An example of the training would be teaching your dog not to run through an open door.

To begin this training you will need to put a leash on the dog (for safety). Have the dog sit or lay down about 5 feet from the closed door.

Reach for the door handle. If the dog moves toward the door say “NO” or “WAIT” (or another word of your choosing) in a firm tone. Then replace the dog to the original starting place and begin again. Each time the dog moves repeat this. If the dog holds the position without moving, reward it. Next, open the door slightly. If it moves, start over again. If the dog holds the position, reward it again. Open the door more, and so on until the dog remains in the SIT or DOWN position without moving until you tell it to move.

Finally, to “proof” this behavior your dog should be able to hold the original place and position indefinitely while being off leash.

This same process can be used for a myriad of training and actions.


Keep your training sessions short. Your training sessions should be kept under 10 minutes in length. Finish each session with your dog correctly doing a behavior.

Always do something that your dog likes to do when the session ends. Playing with the dog’s favorite toy or going for a walk will keep your dog interested in training. Because there is a “fun time” following the training, it will make the dog more willing to train well.


There are several variations of this training that will get you the same results. If you need help with this or any other training, you can Contact Us and we can give personal instruction.

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“Teaching Your Dog Impulse Control – Teaching Self-Control”