Teaching your dog impulse control is the main focus of all dog training. Self restraint or self control is the meaning of impulse control. Dogs do not comprehend that they are unable to have things at the exact time they want them and also will not be able to do what they want when they have the urge. Preventing puppies from running away after seeing something they want or chewing the furniture is easy because they are so young. If they were not taught to control their impulses at an early age, their bad behavior becomes very hard to manage when they become fully grown.
Your dog needs to listen to your commands and resist his immediate desires. Which when achieved your dog will be under control to insure the comfort and safety of others as well as his own. Teaching your dog not to jump when visitors come over is important so they do not upset or cause them any injury. Giving your dog permission to go out the door when you tell him is very crucial keeping him safe from running away, along with coming to you when he is called.
A phrase to use when you want your dog to leave something alone is “Leave it.” This is a very important command to protect your dog when he comes in contact with a situation that could get him into trouble, such as finding objects on the ground or getting into the garbage that could risk his life if swallowed. “Leave it” will show your dog that he will get something better if he leaves something alone. Make a fist, then holding out your hand with a treat so your dog can’t get it, have him sniff and lick your closed hand and say “Leave it.” If he barks, uses his paws or puts his mouth over your hand, just wait and do nothing. Your dog after a few seconds will stop trying. Say “Yes” as soon as he moves his head away from your fist and give him a treat from your other hand. Keep practicing this several times until he does this easily.
To make your dog work a little harder your next step should be teaching him to look at you to get the treat. After you say “Leave it” and you wait and you don’t say “Yes”, he will look at you, as soon as he does give him his treat from your open palm. Keep practicing this until your dog has direct eye contact with you after you tell him “Leave it.” Now he knows he has to look at you to get his treat.
Practicing with treats on the floor is very important also. Put bait on the floor that your dog really does not care for, then put your hand over it and say “Leave it.” Wait for your dog to stop going after the bait. When your dog looks at you say “Yes” and take the bait off the floor and with your other hand give your dog a delicious treat. Continue this raising your hand higher each time until your dog learns not to take the bait.
There are many objects that are safe that you could practice with in your home such as laundry, toys, food, other safe trash and tissues. Go different places to practice such as your friends’ homes, as well as every room in your home, your yard and on daily walks. Remember to reward your dog with treats and praise as he accomplishes learning “Leave it.”