How to Teach Your Dog Impulse Control: A Step-by-Step Guide

If you’ve ever found yourself struggling to keep your dog from jumping up on guests or rushing out the front door, then “How to Teach Your Dog Impulse Control: A Step-by-Step Guide” is the solution you’ve been searching for. With this comprehensive guide, you’ll learn the secrets to teaching your furry friend the vital skill of impulse control. Starting with “How to Teach Your Dog to Stay: Building Reliable Impulse Control”, each post in this series provides you with step-by-step instructions and valuable tips that will have your dog behaving politely in no time. Say goodbye to those embarrassing and frustrating moments, and hello to a well-behaved and obedient pup.

How to Teach Your Dog Impulse Control: A Step-by-Step Guide

Introduction to Impulse Control Training

Teaching your dog impulse control is an essential part of their training. It helps them make better decisions, resist temptations, and become a well-behaved companion. Impulse control training involves teaching your dog to resist immediate gratification and respond to commands, even when faced with distractions or excitement. In this step-by-step guide, we will explore the importance of impulse control, how to prepare for training sessions, and the fundamental commands to teach your dog.

Understanding the Importance of Impulse Control

Impulse control is crucial for your dog’s safety and behavior. Without proper control, they may engage in unwanted behaviors, such as jumping on people, stealing food from the counter, or chasing after squirrels. By teaching your dog impulse control, you are helping them develop self-discipline and impulse inhibition, which can lead to more harmonious interactions and a happier relationship between you and your furry friend.

How to Teach Your Dog Impulse Control: A Step-by-Step Guide

Preparing for Training Sessions

Before you start impulse control training, it’s essential to create a suitable environment for learning. Ensure there are minimal distractions and that your dog is in a relaxed state of mind. Have treats or rewards readily available, as positive reinforcement is key to teaching impulse control. Additionally, make sure you have a clicker or a marker word like “yes” to signal when your dog performs the desired behavior.

Setting Training Goals

To effectively teach impulse control, it’s crucial to set clear training goals. Start by identifying specific behaviors or situations where your dog struggles with self-control. For example, if your dog tends to pull on the leash during walks, your goal may be to teach them to walk calmly by your side. Setting achievable objectives helps you track progress and tailor your training sessions to focus on addressing specific impulse control challenges.

How to Teach Your Dog Impulse Control: A Step-by-Step Guide

Creating a Positive Training Environment

A positive and supportive training environment is vital for your dog’s success. Choose a quiet location with minimal distractions where you can focus entirely on the training session. Ensure your dog is relaxed and comfortable, using positive reinforcement techniques such as treats, praise, and play to motivate and reward their good behavior. Avoid punishment or negative reinforcement, as it can hinder the learning process and damage the trust between you and your dog.

Basic Commands for Impulse Control Training

Impulse control training revolves around teaching your dog basic commands that help them resist impulses and make more appropriate choices. The following commands form the foundation of impulse control training:

How to Teach Your Dog Impulse Control: A Step-by-Step Guide

Step 1: Teaching the ‘Sit’ Command

Start by holding a treat close to your dog’s nose and slowly move your hand up, causing their head to follow the treat and their bottom to lower into a sitting position. Once they are in the sitting position, say “Sit” and immediately reward them with the treat. Practice this command repeatedly, gradually reducing the need for the treat as your dog becomes more proficient. Remember to use positive reinforcement and offer praise whenever your dog successfully sits on command.

Step 2: Teaching the ‘Stay’ Command

To teach the ‘Stay’ command, begin by having your dog sit. Then, with an open palm, say “Stay” while taking a step or two backward. If your dog stays in place, reward them with a treat and praise. Gradually increase the distance and duration of ‘Stay’ while reinforcing the behavior with rewards. If your dog breaks the stay, calmly return them to the original position and start over. Consistency and patience are essential for teaching the ‘Stay’ command.

How to Teach Your Dog Impulse Control: A Step-by-Step Guide

Step 3: Teaching the ‘Leave It’ Command

The ‘Leave It’ command is vital in impulse control training, as it teaches your dog to resist the urge to grab or investigate something they shouldn’t. Start by showing your dog a treat in your closed fist and say “Leave It.” When your dog stops trying to get the treat, reward them with a different treat from your other hand. Repeat this exercise, gradually increasing the difficulty by placing treats on the ground or introducing more enticing objects. Remember to reward your dog for making the correct choice of leaving the item alone.

Step 4: Teaching the ‘Wait’ Command

The ‘Wait’ command teaches your dog to pause and wait for your signal before proceeding. Begin by having your dog sit or stand. Place your open hand in front of their face and say “Wait.” If your dog stays still, reward them with praise and a treat. Increase the duration of the wait gradually and introduce distractions to strengthen their impulse control. Practice the ‘Wait’ command in various situations to ensure your dog understands that they should only proceed when given permission.

How to Teach Your Dog Impulse Control: A Step-by-Step Guide

Step 5: Generalizing Impulse Control Skills

Once your dog has mastered the basic commands, it’s essential to generalize their impulse control skills to different environments and situations. Practice the commands in various locations, gradually increasing the level of distractions. Take your dog for walks and use the commands to redirect their attention from enticing stimuli. By consistently reinforcing impulse control in different contexts, your dog will learn to generalize their self-control skills and make better choices overall.

Addressing Specific Impulse Control Issues

Each dog may have specific impulse control challenges that require extra attention. For example, if your dog has a habit of counter-surfing, focus on teaching the ‘Leave It’ command with objects placed on the counter. If they struggle with jumping on guests, practice the ‘Wait’ command when someone enters the door and reward them for remaining calm. By addressing specific issues directly, you can tailor the training to your dog’s individual needs and reinforce their impulse control in problematic situations.

Common Challenges and Troubleshooting Tips

During impulse control training, you may encounter some challenges along the way. It’s crucial to remain patient and persistent. If your dog is struggling to grasp a command, break it down into smaller steps or increase the value of the rewards. If distractions are hindering progress, gradually introduce them during training sessions and reward your dog for maintaining focus. Consistency, positive reinforcement, and adaptability are key to overcome challenges and make progress in impulse control training.

Maintaining and Reinforcing Impulse Control

Once your dog has acquired impulse control skills, it’s important to maintain and reinforce them regularly. Incorporate impulse control exercises into your daily routine, use the commands during walks or playtime, and provide opportunities for mental stimulation to keep your dog engaged and focused. Remember to continue rewarding good behavior and reinforcing impulse control in various contexts to ensure that your dog’s self-control skills remain sharp and reliable.


Teaching your dog impulse control is an ongoing process that requires patience, consistency, and positive reinforcement. By following this step-by-step guide, you can lay the foundation for a well-behaved and obedient companion. Remember to create a positive training environment, set clear goals, and utilize the basic commands of sit, stay, leave it, and wait to strengthen your dog’s impulse control. Address specific impulse control issues, overcome challenges, and maintain regular training sessions to ensure your dog’s self-discipline continues to grow. With time and practice, you and your furry friend will enjoy the benefits of a well-trained dog with excellent impulse control.