3 Dog Training Exercises For Training Better Patience & Impulse Control

I wrote an article about impulse control a few months ago!  Teaching Your Dog the Importance of training for Patience using Impulse Control 

I think one of the biggest “sources” of behavior problems that I see with dogs is their lack of impulse control.

They are used to getting what they want when they want it, or they are adept at rewarding themselves (by digging, stealing things, jumping up etc.).

And, when we allow our dogs to reward themselves or we reward them for their mere existence we are in turn creating little furry monsters.

Human Life

Human life is full of impulse control.

I can’t punch the guy sitting next to me and take his Cheetos even if I am hungry and Cheetos are my favorite treat.

Drooling on his shoes or staring in his eyes while he eats is also not likely to get me rewarded.

Our hands get slapped and we get told NO as soon as we begin toddling around and exploring our world and we make wrong choices.

Eventually we learn appropriate manners and how to ask for the things we want.

In essence, we control our impulses to eat whenever and whatever we want, say whatever we want, and do other inappropriate things that social norms don’t allow.

Sure you can take your pants off and run around at 2 but it really isn’t allowed as we age.

However sometimes we allow our dogs to have all kinds of inappropriate behaviors without addressing them.

We allow our dogs to steal food.

Steal our things.

Jump on us.

Bite or nip us.

Tug on the leash, etc.

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Dogs Can’t Learn Obedience if They Have No Impulse Control

It is pretty simple.Midnight snacks

Dogs really can’t learn any form of obedience if they don’t have the simple ability to control their own impulses.

This is the basics of the basics.

And, interestingly, I have seen some dogs who have learned to control their impulses while training but cannot leave food or toys alone to save their souls.

It is like they compartmentalize training and only do it under certain circumstances.

None of us wants a dog that can’t control himself in most situations!

So we must teach him impulse control in all places and in all things.

In my first article we spoke about impulse control as it relates to food and treats.

Our dogs should not be allowed to steal food from the floor, the counter, our hands.

And, they shouldn’t be allowed to dive head first into their food dish without being told.

It is good manners to teach your dog to wait until he is told to eat!

It also ensures that he is less likely to steal from children or others that he deems weaker than himself.

I say “less likely” because you actually have to train for this if you have children or others from whom he likes to steal!

From food you can move to toys!


Toys are my dogs’ favorite things!

All I have to do is touch their favorite toys and their eyes light up!

However, me handling their toy is not an excuse to be jumped on or mauled for said toy.

I don’t want my dog to think he can grow pogo sticks for legs the moment I touch his tennis ball (for reasons tennis balls may be dangerous for your dog click here) or tug toy.

I actually have to teach impulse control.

As with Food

As with food, I teach my dog if he gets snatchy, the toy will disappear.

I will only play with him if he has good manners!

Once he learns some basics, I can tell him to sit or lay down prior to my throwing his toy for him.

The mental stimulation required to do obedience while over stimulated by toy throwing is exhausting, and I like an exhausted dog!

So, I try to use obedience as much as possible in order to get my dog stimulated and play with him!

This also adds excitement and joy to my dog’s obedience, which gets us closer to a beautiful animated obedience routine when we compete!

After all, obedience should be as fun and game based as possible.

Taking it to the Next Level

After your dog has learned not to snatch his toys, to bring them back, and to listen to obedience before you throw or play with them; it is time to up the ante.

Have you ever seen a dog that could balance food or a toy on his face without putting it in his mouth?

Perhaps you have seen the dogs who are told to “stay” while their owner throws their favorite toy.

These are exemplary illustrations of excellent impulse control!

Make it difficult

Don’t feel guilty.

I think, often, people feel sorry for these dogs who have learned the utmost forms of impulse control.

They think it is mean to teach the dog to balance the ball on his nose, or to hold a treat in his mouth without eating it.

I think that this is the most supreme source or impulse control and thinking.

Dogs like to think!

Mixed breed dog balancing ball on noseDogs like to learn.

They want to be stimulated.

They want to be interacted with.

They want to be played with!

And the more you fulfill those needs, they less they need to do naughty things like snatch the things they want.

Get Started

So get started with your dog.

If he lunges toward his toy, make it disappear, until he is showing you an acceptable behavior.

Next ask him to do obedience in order for you to play with him.

And, from there move your criteria to include advanced obedience like a sit stay as you throw, bounce or play with the toy while teaching your dog that controlling himself and his urges will end up in the ultimate reward!

The Service Dog Industries Secret For How They Train The Calmest Dogs In The World

If you too would like a professional service dog train to help your dog learn how to be more calm, check out our 8 week class, where we walk you through how you can use Service Dog industries impulse control training process on your own dog.

Click here to learn the Service Dog Industries “Training For Calm” Routine


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  1. AnnyLaurie McKay says:

    Is this possible when my mini schnauzer is already 18 months – she is pretty good but she continually steals my sons clothing and runs as fast as she can – so we have to chase her and tell her to drop it which she does but this is a game for her. She gets lots of exercise at least 3 hours a day and tons of play.


  2. Anne Morgan says:

    I have two male dogs, a 7 yr old Terrier(I think part Schipperke) and a 3 y.o. Poodle. Not my first dogs but the first I couldn’t train to follow the house rules. Talk about lack of impulse control, the Terrier mix is a perfect example. I’ve finally got the barking tempered but since the Poodle came to live here, the two of them have a peeing contest, instigated by the Terrier who is still jealous after 7 mo. Every day I go around cleaning up every closed door, table leg, chair leg (if it’s upright they get it). They know they are breaking the rules but nothing I’ve tried has even slowed them down. How I long for impulse control. Both dogs were rescued from bad situations. You’d think they would appreciate it LOL.


  3. irene says:

    exceptionally interesting I have two small dogs that yap a lot when I am eating unless I give them something….. even if they r fed ….. I will start to try and use a little more control


  4. catherine says:

    my dog has been increasingly getting aggressive. Once he steals something of mine, and i attempt to take it from, he growls and acts like he is going to bite me. He often nips (draws blood) me , and i am about to get rid of him. I work with him every day and when training he does very well.


  5. Gill says:

    My current dog always explores behavioural boundaries in intricate details. I have had dogs all my life and never seen this before my current dog. For instance she has been tought that she must not chew holes in my socks, but she looks for my socks and pulls any bits of fuff off then and any hair or anything that should not be there. It is very funny, but will allowing her to do that detriment her general training, that I allow behaviour to creep up to boundarys. It seems a bit like two way negotiation.

    “Can I steal from the fridge” No, “can I lick the fridge door” No, “then can I lie next to the fridge then.” She is like that with everything.


    Minette Reply:

    I would say she accepts it because you accept it. If you make your rules stick to them, if you don’t… you get a dog or a child who tests constantly


  6. Gill says:

    Probably the spitz genes from the Schipperke. Small spitz breeds can be quite a challenge.


  7. Joyce says:

    Catherine, my puggle started getting aggressive last Christmas. Initially around food, but it was getting progressively worse. I went to a holistic vet and got him thoroughly checked out and tried several things. What finally worked – and far quicker than I would have expected – was adding a high quality Fish Oil to his food. He went from freaking out if the cat came within 5 feet of him while he was eating, to having the cat almost sit down next to him with no problem! I would suggest talking to your vet first, and getting an oil that’s not in an “open top” container. I use Life Line Brand Wild Alaskan Salmon Oil and have to really squeeze hard to dispense his dose – it’s got sort of a ‘self-sealing’ top on it. I’ve seen other brands that have a similar type of thing but in a pump. Hope this helps you as much as it did me!


  8. Jennifer Cavin says:

    My Border Collie is constantly testing the limits too. As long as we’re both happy with the “lesser” behavior I’m okay with it. My guard is always up though, and if she crosses the line, she gets corrected.


  9. Kathleen Gee says:

    We have an 11 month old Cairn Terrier. He loves the “grab and chase” game. I thought “if you can’t lick ’em, join ’em” so I taught him “pick it up” and “bring it” and now he helps me do the laundry by bringing anything I have “accidentally ” dropped. I have a container of treats waiting in the laundry room. He still likes his grab game, but very rarely now. Also try not to chase him. Usually if you just let him have it, he’ll get bored and leave it and you can pick it up later. If you chase him, you are giving him exactly what he wants! Hope this helps. (And by the way, I am signed up for the training class beginning in January, because even though this makes me sound like I really know what I’m doing I still have LOTS to learn!!😉


  10. Trish says:

    Malshi female 6 months. Help. Mouthing. Listening.
    Still not totally potty trained.
    Eats feces when we do not stay right with her every minute. This so disgusting!


  11. Karen says:

    Lay the boundaries down.
    Let them know it is yours.
    I have four dogs and I tell them when I put food down on the coffee table.
    MIne and say it as u mean it.
    My dogs are age 13 to 8 months old.
    They will get a treat afterwards.
    If bad they are in trouble.
    Respect is what I teach them.
    Don’t give in.


  12. Mike says:

    I have a jack russell that goes bananas attacking the walls and furniture when ever there is applause on the television. He seems calm right up to that point then goes completely beserk.


  13. Elizabeth says:

    I have a rescue who, I have learned through DNA testing, is 39.5% Lab, 25% Brittney Spaniel, 25% mix of Asian and Guard dog, 12.5% Shetland Sheepdog.
    She has been through Puppy socialization and Level 1 training and passed the testing but can’t seem to learn not to jump on everyone and to not pull when on leash. I am a senior and she has caused me to fall several times with her pulling. I have tried the harness recommended at training and stopping every time she pulls. I am at the point of wanting to rehome her. She is now 15 months old and 55 lbs. I am signed up for the course starting in July. Can’t take her to the Family Reunion as she will jump on everyone. She is my 4th
    Lab rescue and all the others were a joy to be around – so I have successfully
    trained 3 others.


  14. Susan says:

    Elizabeth, when you are walking dog, every time he pulls on the leash, you turn around 180 degrees and change directions. At first you will be going nowhere (back and forth) but dog will learn eventually. A trainer did this w my rescue and it works!


  15. Dawn Boss says:

    My 5 year old male boxer dog has passed all his classes with flying colors and really does well. ” Almost.” He was a rescue and very abused, as well as left to starve. He barks at anyone at the door and will not shut up, and try’s to escape pass me. He doesn’t want to hurt anyone. Just greet them. Then after 5 years of good eating manners, he has decided to take things from the counter and devour them before being caught. It all started with a 6 pound meat loaf left to cool. I have taken him to the vet and was told it was because he is reacting to not being able to eat at one time, but it puzzles me that he waited four years to start his habit.
    PS. Do you sell your tapes for home video use ?


  16. Sheri says:

    I think it is the chase that she enjoys more than stealing the clothes. If possible, I would suggest, without chasing her, to tell her to drop it and when she does, reward her with a really yummy treat and lots of praise. Putting clothing where she is unable to obtain them would be good as well. Put the clothes away, up where they can’t be reached, close the bedroom door, etc.


  17. Minette says:

    I don’t do husband training 😉 hahaha


  18. Elaine Casey says:

    The chasing is why she steals. It is now a game. Stop chasing…


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