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Teaching Impulse Control with Wait and Leave It

Teaching Impulse Control with Wait and Leave It

The Zen of Dog Training

Do you have a furry bundle of energy at home who can’t seem to control themselves around delicious treats or exciting playthings? Fear not, my fellow dog parents – the secret to unlocking your pup’s inner zen is all in the power of “wait” and “leave it.”

As someone who’s been there, done that with my own high-energy canine companion, Calvin, I can attest to the life-changing magic of these two simple commands. You see, teaching impulse control isn’t just about keeping your dog out of trouble – it’s about empowering them to make better choices and strengthening that unbreakable bond between you.

Mastering the Art of “Wait”

When I first brought Calvin home, one of the very first things we started working on was the “wait” command. Now, I know what you’re thinking – how the heck do you get a rambunctious puppy to wait patiently for anything, let alone a tasty treat or their meal? It’s all about starting small and building up that self-control muscle over time.

We began by having Calvin wait for just a second or two before releasing him to dig into his food bowl. Believe me, there were plenty of scratches and impatient pawing as he tried to outsmart us, but we stayed consistent. Slowly but surely, we were able to increase the duration of his “wait” until he could hold a treat on his nose for a whopping 10 seconds without so much as a twitch!

The beauty of the “wait” command is that it can be generalized to all sorts of everyday situations – waiting at the door before going outside, waiting patiently in the elevator, even waiting before scarfing down a tasty meal. It’s like a built-in “pause” button for your dog, teaching them that good things come to those who can master their impulses.

Navigating the Nuances of “Leave It”

Now, “leave it” may seem similar to “wait,” but there’s an important distinction. With “wait,” your pup knows that they’ll eventually get access to the forbidden fruit (or bacon, in our case). But “leave it” is a hard line in the sand – whatever that tempting morsel is, it’s simply not happening, end of story.

We started teaching Calvin the “leave it” command early on, using it for everything from stray socks on the floor to intriguing-smelling critters in the yard. The key was making it a non-negotiable rule – no ifs, ands, or buts. Over time, Calvin learned that when I say “leave it,” he needs to redirect his focus straight to me, no questions asked.

One of the biggest benefits of the “leave it” command is the safety it provides, especially in those oh-so-tempting situations. Imagine your pup stumbling upon a discarded chicken bone or a deliciously smelly pile of poop – with a solid “leave it” under their belt, you can rest easy knowing they’ll steer clear.

Building a Zen Master

Now, I know what you’re thinking – all this “wait” and “leave it” business sounds great, but how the heck do you actually teach it? Well, my friends, it’s all about setting your pup up for success and being patient (pun intended) in the process.

Start by teaching the “no mugging” concept – getting your dog comfortable with hand-feeding and learning that pestering you isn’t the way to get what they want. From there, you can slowly build up the duration of the “wait” command, rewarding your pup with the treat or playtime once they’ve mastered holding their position.

For “leave it,” focus on reducing frustration and setting your dog up for quick wins. Show them the path to success, then gradually increase the challenge as they prove their mastery. And remember, the ultimate goal isn’t just to have a dog who can resist temptation – it’s to cultivate a pup who naturally defaults to waiting patiently for your cue, without the need for constant reminders.

Trust me, the journey to creating a Zen Master pup isn’t always easy, but the payoff is nothing short of life-changing. Not only will you have a dog who’s a delight to be around, but you’ll also forge an unbreakable bond built on trust, communication, and a shared understanding of what it means to be truly “good.”

So, what are you waiting for? Head on over to and start exploring the wealth of resources available to help you teach your furry friend the art of impulse control. Your couch cushions, shoe collection, and future sanity will thank you!

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