Dog Impulse Control: How to Achieve it

When a dog can't control its impulses, it quickly becomes very stressful for you. Nerves are on edge because your pet could run into the street, in front of bicycles and to strangers at any given time. However, you can teach your puppy to restrain themselves with dog impulse control training.

Impulse control dog
Article Overview

Lack of obedience can have nasty consequences in risky situations. For example, your dog could dash across the street or jump at strangers.

Dog impulse control is synonymous to having an obedient pet. The idea is to repress their dangerous instincts. It takes some work, patience and a lot of effort. Nevertheless, it's worth it to ensure your dog's safety. 

Despite how complex it may seem at first, dog impulse control training is very straightforward and anyone can do it!

Have fun reading! 😃

The Advantages of Dog Impulse Control Training

dog stairs

The benefits of dog impulse control are actually obvious. You teach your puppy to keep their temper under control. That alone is a great advantage. There are other positive aspects that will be of great benefit to you. 

If you can teach your dog to control their impulses, you can make sure they are no longer as chaotic as can be. 

Another advantage: you can control their behavior on the leash in a positive fashion. Your pet will no longer tug uncontrollably on the leash, making your walks more relaxing. 

By learning dog impulse control training, you can moderate your pet's behavior effectively. Their reactions won't be as aggressive to other dogs in the future. This means that encountering another pet won't be a nightmare for you anymore.

How Do I Teach My Dog Impulse Control?

Dog impulse control uses certain rules your dog should already know. 

For instance, we'll be using the 'sit' command.This is the ultimate tool for any training.

Worry not! If your puppy doesn't know how to remain still yet, they can still do so. Teaching it is fairly simple. 

Here's a guide for you to help you with the 'sit' command's training:

The ‘Sit’ Command: A 5-Step Guide

dog 1576003 1920

1) Make Your Dog Stand Up

The first thing you want your dog to do is to assume a standing position beforehand. This is important since we need to show the movements that should take place during this exercise.

2) Have Reward Ready in Hand

When your dog has finally stood up, prepare a treat. Do this as stealthily as possible. Then, draw their attention to the treat. Clench your fists so as to not let them eat it. 

Now that your puppy is focused on the snack, move your hand over their head. You will notice that they'll be sitting shortly after. 

3) Give Your Dog Rewards

When your dog sits down, give them the treat. Show them other rewards, too: pet them and praise them, as in 'Well done!' or 'Good boy!'

4) Apply a Command

After the rewards and the praises, you can proceed to the fourth step. 

In the fourth step, you have to observe your dog closely. Before you move the hand with the treat over your pet's head, say the word "sit". In this way, they will associate this command with your behavior.

5) Grind & Repeat

Repeat this step for a few days and several times a day. Sooner than later, your dog will master the 'sit' command.

Voila! Your Dog Learned the 'Sit' Command

Great! Now that your dog can follow the 'sit' command, we can move on to dog impulse control training. 

It's compulsory to use the 'sit' command if we want to build a dog's impulse control. 

So far, your dog may not be able to control themselves long enough to stay in a sitting position for long.

Certainly, they might hold out for a few seconds before they get restless. That's where dog impulse control comes in.

Thanks to dog impulse control, you can make your pet follow orders like 'sit' for longer. 

Now they have internalized the 'sit' command and can apply it to control your dog's impulses.

The point here is that you, step by step, improve the patience of your dog. 

For starters, move back and forth a little. Then give your dog a treat if they stay in place. After that, start to include more and more stimuli while they're sit.

The goal is to eventually get you to leave the room for a few seconds. When you come back in, you can give your dog the treat and give them some petting. 

However, you leave the room only after intensive practice. If you use this stimulus too early, your dog is likely to be overwhelmed by it. 

Training can have counterproductive effect on a dog's behavior. For this reason, it's vital that you include enough intermediate steps.

These intermediate steps can be: 

  • You sit down for a moment and get up again immediately
  • You run to the closet or dresser and look for "something"
  • You take the treat from one hand to the other
  • You ignore your dog for a few seconds and look around the room

There are other intermediate steps to improve dog impulse control. There are no limits to your creativity. Ideally, you have to make sure the intermediate steps are not too far apart in terms of difficulty.

The Rules Behind Dog Impulse Control

Impulse control

Have you internalized impulse control in your dog and have you been able to improve it more and more? Then you have almost reached the end of the topic. 

Here we have a collection of tips and tricks that can make dog impulse control training far easier. 

1) Reward Even the Smallest of Feats

You should not wait too long with the rewards. They should already be used for small feelings of success.

If not, your dog won't have the motivation to keep their dog impulses in check! 

Before the actual training of impulse control and the first attempts of training, you should reward every small sense of achievement. The rewards can take the form of treats or petting, for example. 

2) Be Consistent

Impulse control training should be applied to daily habits. This is important so that your dog learns to stay calm in all situations. 

Ideal "daily habits" can be: 

  • feding 
  • Walking with the leash (letting off the leash, taking on the leash)
  • Opening the front door
  • Meeting other dogs or friends of yours
  • Before a reward
  • When opening the balcony, car or terrace door

3) Don't Make Training Stressful!

It is highly recommended that the training and exercises take place in a completely stress-free environment. 

For this reason, keep in mind that training requires patience and time. Stress or impatience can be counterproductive to a dog's training: they'll only learn to despise training sessions!

4) Never Tell Off nor Punish

Punishment and aggressive behavior are also counterproductive to any kind of dog training. Please refrain from such measures at all costs. 

Aggressive behavior or punishment in the form of verbal, emotional and physical violence should never be used in dog training.

Conclusion for Housetraining a Dog

Dog impulse control can simplify the coexistence between you and your pet. Many owners saw a huge improvement over their relationships with their companions after training their animalistic urges. 

Training a dog's impulse allows you to lead your dog better. This benefits them and also your environment.

We hope our guides and tips have helped you! We believe dog impulse control training is one of the best way stop reach a beautiful and respectful bond between owners and pets. 

Written by Anja Boecker
Written by Anja Boecker

My name is Anja Boecker and I am a dog trainer and behavior consultant (IHK certificate). With these articles I would like to help you understand your dog better and build an inseparable bond.

Learn more

Share now:

5 Comments

  1. That sounds really great, but how exactly do I practice impulse control so that the dog stays put (even for a few seconds)? My puppy likes to be active, the sit works fine but the "stay", i.e. stay put, doesn't work, he always runs after me (which isn't necessarily bad) and therefore doesn't learn the command. Do you have a tip for me? Thank you!

    1. HUNDEO editorial office

      Dear Annemarie, unfortunately there is no exact instruction that works immediately with every dog. It is best if you internalize that the training should be built up with a lot of patience. It is best to approach the matter step by step. If he already masters the "sit" exercise, then you can increase the time he should stay in this position without moving yourself. After that, incorporate very slight movements, e.g. a daring step to the left or to the right or backwards. Keep practicing this until you notice that your movements are not getting him to come out of the "sit" position. Reward him with a treat. Gradually, you can start trying to get out of the room. Good luck 🙂 .

  2. Hello how do I practice impulse control when encountering other dogs.My 2 year old dog (mini Aussie) then does not respond to treats or a toy. She barks and pulls like crazy on the leash, and really just wants to play.

    1. HUNDEO editorial office

      Dear Monique, in extreme cases it is always advisable to call in an expert on site (e.g. behavior therapist, trainer). This would ensure that this professional can observe your dog for a while to find out what the reason is, after which a strategy will be developed and the behavior pattern of your dog will be changed accordingly. We wish you much success!

    2. Anja from Hundeo

      Dear Monique, your dog is probably overwhelmed with the situation and does not focus on you. You can first start to make the situation easier and ask friends, with already known dogs, to practice with you. Direct the attention there to you.
      But, it is a very complex issue. I would also advise you to contact a dog trainer. These behaviors usually don't stop on their own - even when the dog gets older. Most of the time they become more established. That's where on-the-spot help is really important. Good luck with your training!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.