Dogs are naturally impulsive animals. Impulsive behavior served our dog’s canine ancestors well. In the domestic situation, impulse control means choosing one behavior over another. It means our dog chooses the action we would prefer rather than the action he would choose for himself.
Some examples of impulsive behavior are jumping out of the car door or jumping up when his food bowl is about to be placed on the floor.
Impulse behavior for a dog just means teaching him a default behavior to use in certain situations.
He needs to know what is expected of him in a number of different situations without constantly being told.
He needs a library of appropriate behaviors which he can use as necessary.
You hear dog owners constantly telling their dog not to do something. This is teaching using punishment. You are hoping to get the outcome you want by stopping him from doing something he is enjoying.
The secret of successfully training a dog is getting him to understand that showing the behavior that you want rather than the one he would choose himself brings greater rewards.
Here are some examples of some default actions that your can train your dog to use. Over time, the aim is to get your dog to choose these new behaviors without prompting.
The underlying theme behind these methods is that if your dog wants to do something he needs to work for it. If he wants to eat his dinner he should sit calmly beside his bowl for a minute or so first.
Waiting For A Meal
Mealtimes are the most exciting times of the day for many dogs. We want the dog to stay calm and relaxed and only start eating when he has permission to do so,
The first step is to get him in the sitting position and reward him with a treat.
Begin to place the bowl on the ground in front of him. If he lunges for it, pick it up and return him to the sitting position. Continue this routine until he is able to sit still while the bowl is placed on the ground,
The next step in to put the bowl on the ground and cover the food with your hands. Slowly uncover the food. If he lunges for the food cover it up again. Repeat this until he is able to sit there looking at his food without lunging for it. You can then give the release command and he can eat his meal.
Waiting For A Treat
Start by getting your dog into the sitting position and rewarding him with a treat. Have another treat in your palm and hold the treat above his head. Slowly lower the treat towards his mouth. If he gets up or attempts to get the treat, take you hand away and return him to the sitting position without giving it to him.
Repeat this process until you can bring the treat to within a few inches of his mouth without him attempting to get it. At this point you can reward him.
Teach Your Dog Not To Rush Through An Open Door.
Dogs seem to love rushing out of doors. They don’t seem to worry how many people they have to push out of the way to be the first one through.
To correct this behavior, get your dog in to a sitting position near a door. Reward him with a treat for sitting. Slowly open the door. If he attempts to go out, close the door. Get him back in the sitting position without a treat and start over. Repeat the door opening procedure.
Only give him the release command when he has remained in the sitting position while the door is opened fully.
You will need patience and persistence to teach this behavior.
You will notice that these training routines use a similar concept. The dog gets what he wants when he gives you what you want. The technique can be adapted to modify any impulsive behavior.