Now that the holidays are here, it means more time with family and friends – and more chances for your dog to get overly excited and impulsive. While we know our dogs are always happy to see us, they’re especially excited to meet and be around new people. So how do you make sure your dog is on their best behavior around guests? Impulse control.
Here are some tips on teaching your pup impulse control – and why it’s so important.
Find the “Instant Reward”
Dogs almost always show reward-based behavior. That’s why they may try to bolt out the door any chance they get or gobble food as soon as it’s in front of them; they want instant gratification. So, many dogs will jump on guests to get immediate attention – regardless of if it’s positive or negative. Once you figure out the unwanted action (like jumping or stealing food), you can begin to correct the problem.
Redirect Them to a New Reward
Showing your dog a new reward is like teaching a puppy not to chew your brand new shoes. To teach a puppy not to chew your shoes, you must show them what is acceptable to chew on. The same goes for teaching dogs not to jump or steal food.
If a dog doesn’t get what they want when they jump (attention) but gets what they want they don’t jump, they’ll learn that the key to getting your attention is to not jump. Another way to teach impulse control is to teach your dog to sit whenever the door is open and guests enter the house.
Find a Better Behavior
Rather than constantly telling your dog “no” when they do something wrong, try giving them a new job and rewarding them when they do it. Similar to the last tip, try teaching your dog to go to their bed as soon as the door opens or teach them to pick up a toy to occupy themselves when guests arrive. If your dog is a beggar, try teaching them to go their crate or a designated room during dinnertime.
As with any new training, impulse control takes time and a lot of patience. Puppies or particularly rambunctious dogs may not understand what to do at first, so you may have to open and close the door an unimaginable amount of times before your dog learns what you want them to. But be patient and repetitive and your pup will get it eventually!
Keep it Going
Rather than only utilize impulse control during the holidays, make it a part of everyday life. Even if it’s just you coming through the door, have them go to their bed or sit until you tell them it’s okay to come say hello. By this time next year, your pup will be an impulse control pro!
Why Impulse Control is So Important
Since dogs are essentially born with no impulse control, it’s not a natural concept for them. Impulse control could save their life. Bolting out the door could result in getting lost or hit by a car. Gobbling down anything they can eat can lead to choking or even death if they ingest something poisonous. Teaching impulse control can literally mean the difference between life and death.
Even if your dog has no impulse control at the moment, it’s not too late to start! Start small and work your way up and your pup will be an impulse control pro in no time!
One way to help with impulsive behavior is to make sure your pup gets enough exercise. Try adding an extra walk during the day using For Your Spot’s expert dog walkers. You’ll come home to a happy and less rambunctious pup! Learn more about our services here.