Impulskontrolle Dackel

Impulse control in dogs - tips & information

Joggers, balls, game, cyclists or other dogs: Your dog encounters many stimuli when living with people. It is part of his natural instincts to chase after these stimuli. To ensure that your everyday life doesn't become a torture for your nerves because your pet reacts to everything that moves, we have put together some helpful tips and various exercises to train impulse control with your four-legged friend.

What is impulse control?

Dogs have naturally impulsive behaviour and follow their emotions - they often react to every perceived movement. However, to avoid difficulties when living with humans, dogs need to learn not to give in to every stimulus and build up a certain level of frustration tolerance - impulse control. If your dog has good impulse control, it will not react to environmental stimuli with spontaneous behaviour and will instead wait for a signal from you. This is why impulse control is important:

  • Your dog needs impulse control for a good social life. The goal is calmness and self-control.
  • If he has his impulses under control, this also ensures his safety: if your dog cannot hold back, it can quickly become dangerous. If he runs after every squirrel or bird that scurries past, the road can quickly become a danger zone for him.
  • He could also injure smaller animals or
  • jump uncontrollably at passers-by.
  • It is also possible that he may snap or react aggressively in anxiety situations.
  • If your pet can control his impulses, this will also help with leash training: he will concentrate more on you when you walk him on a loose leash instead of pouncing on every moving leaf.

Effective impulse control training can prevent all of these dangers. If your dog learns self-control and how to deal with frustration - for example, if he is not allowed to greet his dog buddy or doesn't get his treat straight away - you can avoid unwanted behaviour and ensure balance and calm in your everyday life. It is therefore worth investing time and patience in training your furry friend's impulse control.

Impulse control in dogs - helpful exercises

To teach your dog impulse control, you can do various exercises with him. If you have a particularly excited and impulsive furry friend at home, a dog trainer can support you in your training: They will know exactly which exercises are right for your dog and will be on hand to answer any questions you may have.

Our impulse control exercises for your dog are not only easy and fun to do, but also help to keep your dog mentally busy and help you to relax throughout the day:

Exercise 1: Laying the foundations

Simple exercises for the start are the sit and stay commands. This is how you proceed:

  1. Give your dog the sit command.
  2. Hold a treat in your hand and show it to your four-legged friend. Once he has taken notice, close your hand.
  3. If your furry friend tries to reach the tempting snack, say "No" and wait until it calms down.
  4. As soon as the dog sits, praise him verbally and then give him the food.

You can do this exercise 3 to 4 times in a row and several times a week at the beginning. You will see - your pet will quickly understand what you expect of them.

Exercise 2: Encourage attention and eye contact

Voluntary eye contact with you can be a strategy for your dog to cope with the situation in exciting or frightening moments. Eye contact also helps with impulse control training. Instead of immediately chasing after the ball, your dog makes contact with you and waits for your permission. You can see establishing eye contact as an extension of the basic exercise:

  1. Pick up a treat and have your dog sit in front of you.
  2. This time, calm behaviour alone is not enough for your four-legged friend to get his reward. At first, he will probably stare at the hand holding the object of his desire. However, wait until he looks you in the eye.
  3. Give your dog the treat as soon as there is conscious eye contact. This will teach him that it is worth making contact with you.
  4. You can extend the exercise by introducing a signal, e.g. "Look", for eye contact. Say your signal as soon as your eyes meet and give him the reward immediately afterwards. As soon as the signal has stabilised, you can also use it on the walk - initially on routes that are familiar to your dog and with few distractions. If this works well, you can gradually increase the distraction. This exercise can help you to deal with wildlife or dog encounters in a relaxed manner.

Exercise 3: Do not touch!

In this exercise, you don't hold the treat in your hand, but place it on the floor. To be able to control the situation, you should keep your four-legged friend on the lead at the beginning. If he tries to take the piece of food, say "No" or give him the command "Wait". If he stops, praise him verbally. If he manages to stay calm for a few seconds, you can hand him the snack or release it. You can increase the amount of time your dog has to wait before he is allowed to eat the treat each time you train him.

Our tip: You can incorporate the waiting exercise at many points in your everyday life. You can make your dog wait before he eats his meal or before he is allowed to run into the garden.

Exercise 4: Stay!

The "stay" command is one of the basics of dog training. If your dog can stay calmly in one place until you release the command, this will help you in many everyday situations - whether you are crossing a busy road, talking to someone or wanting to disappear into the bathroom alone in your home. If your dog can easily cope with such situations, even though he would much rather rush off or follow you, he has good impulse control. Use these steps to build up the command:

  1. Have your dog sit and say "Stay".
  2. Move away from him slowly and only for a few seconds at first. Start with short distances from which your dog can see you clearly.
  3. If she manages to sit, praise her verbally and go back to her. You can also reward her with treats when you are near her again. Make sure that your dog does not get up before you allow her to do so with a release signal such as "Okay" or "Free".
  4. If this works well, you can gradually increase your distance to him in further training sessions - until you can move completely out of his field of vision.

If your dog stands up during the exercise without your command, lead him back to his original place without comment and repeat the exercise. Incidentally, you shouldn't do too many training sessions a day - as it is very strenuous for your pet, this could quickly overwhelm him.

Exercise 5: Retrieve

Learning to retrieve is not only great fun for most dogs, you can also teach your furry friend impulse control with this challenging activity. He learns not to follow his impulse immediately and chase after a tempting movement such as a ball, but to stay put and hold out until you release him. This is how you can train it:

  1. It is best to use a food dummy for training. To draw your dog's attention to the dummy, fill it with treats in front of him and then let him sniff it. You can also give him a piece of food from the dummy.
  2. Once he has familiarised himself with the toy, put him on a tracking leash. Make him sit and throw the dummy a few metres away - be careful not to throw it further than the length of the lead. Make your dog sit and don't allow him to rush off immediately.
  3. Only when he is calm and his attention is with you do you give him the command to get up and retrieve the dummy, e.g. "retrieve".
  4. Now it's getting challenging: many dogs don't want to give the dummy back so quickly, so your stamina and steadfastness are required. Praise him verbally for picking up the dumm y and lure him to you. If your dog doesn't react, you can slowly pull him towards you with the tracking leash. Then use a command such as "out" to signal to him to hand over the dummy to you. If he lets go, praise him lavishly and reward him with treats from the dummy food.
  5. Repeat this exercise a maximum of 3 times in a row and only increase it by taking off the leash when your dog has already mastered it well.

If your dog doesn't bring the dummy to you straight away or hand it over, that's okay at first. He will soon realise that he can't get the treats without your help and change his strategy.

Our tip: You can increase each exercise by gradually incorporating distractions into your training sessions. Firstly at home - perhaps you can practise briefly while visitors are around - and if this works well, also on a walk: children may be playing ball next to you or other dogs may be nearby.

The important thing is not to expect too much from your pet, always keep him on the lead in the field for safety and increase the distraction slowly and only when you are sure that the exercise works well with little distraction. The training should be fun and not overwhelm him. This is the only way to achieve long-term learning success and have a relaxed and happy four-legged friend at your side.

Impulse control during dog encounters

A dog that has learned to control its impulses can also cope with dog encounters in a more relaxed manner: problems on the lead such as unwanted barking, jumping or aggressive behaviour are reduced or, in the best case, do not arise in the first place. After successful training, your furry friend will be able to make better decisions and control his behaviour - parks and other busy areas will no longer be a final enemy.

If your dog can control his actions well by practising impulse control at home and with little distraction, you can gradually use this when you meet other dogs. We have tips for meeting other dogs for you:

  • Start with walks in quiet neighbourhoods where you only encounter individual dogs: In such situations, it is a good idea to signal "Look" as you walk past the dog. Then reward your furry friend with food for calm behaviour. This keeps your dog's attention on you and not on the other dog. This not only strengthens your bond, but also teaches him to associate dog encounters positively.
  • Other exercises, such as waiting, can also be performed well when dogs meet. Vary the demands on your furry friend! You can also simply unpack his favourite toy and have a little play session. This will help your dog to react particularly happily to dog encounters, as he can be excited to see what happens next.
  • If your dog can already concentrate well on you in the presence of another dog, you can increase the distraction and drive to busier areas where you will meet several dogs.
  • If possible, make sure that your dog only has positive experiences with other dogs. This way you can prevent aggression on the lead and socialise your dog.

Impulse control in dog puberty

Puberty brings special challenges, as hormones and developmental phases can influence your dog's impulsive behaviour.

As is often the case, the solution here is patience! Continue the training consistently, even if it doesn't work so well because your fidgety furry friend simply can't concentrate and their frustration tolerance is very low. Increased structure and routine will ultimately help your dog to overcome his hormonal insecurity and excitement. Pay attention to positive learning experiences here too and avoid harsh corrections so as not to unsettle your young four-legged friend in his sensitive phase.

Conclusion: Impulse control is an important part of dog training. If your dog manages to take a step back in exciting situations, this will make your life together easier. Impulse control helps your dog to relax and go through everyday life calmly. There are many different exercises for training that are easy and fun to do. How did you teach your fluffy friend impulse control? Perhaps you have more tips for us - we look forward to hearing your stories!

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