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Impulse Control

Updated: Dec 31, 2022

Is your dog impatient, demanding, hyperactive, or bouncy? Maybe your dog is a developing adolescent, or an adult rescue with little socialization? Having an overly excitable dog can be overwhelming and frustrating.

We can't change our dog's overall temperament, but luckily we are able to use training tools to help our dogs develop the ability to remain calm and better self-regulate. As we set boundaries and create communication tools with our dogs, we help them to learn to be patient and to better control their emotions.

Any consistent training with your dog will help him with impulse control. Enrichment also helps to keep your dog mentally fulfilled and provides an outlet for excess energy. Here is a set of training games and protocols to help improve your dog's impulse control and encourage calm behavior.

Impulse Control Games:

  • Chill Out Game: This game helps to give your dog an "off" button. Alternate between active play and a calming cue such as a "sit". Start with the dog at a low level of excitement, and then continue to practice until your dog will respond to the cue even when highly excited.

  • It's Your Choice: Susan Garrett created this foundation game specifically to increase impulse control. This game can be particularly helpful with dogs that grab treats out of your hand or demand food.

  • Default Behavior: Teaching your dog a default behavior gives him a way to "say please" instead of a using a less respectful behavior. Simply reward your dog any time he offers a sit or a down (choose one!) without a cue. You can also wait for your dog to sit/down any time you deliver a "life reward" including getting on the couch or bed, going out the back door, or delivering his food.

  • Yes for Success: We tend to notice when our dogs are naughty, but ignore them completely when they are well behaved. Arm yourself with treats or keep them in an easy to access place. Throughout the day, mark and reward any calm behaviors your dog offers on his own.

Calming Protocols:

  • Tellington TTouch: TTouch is a series of bodywork movements that are designed to help animals move beyond instinctive reactions and encourage more thoughtful responses.

  • Karen Overall's Relaxation Protocol: The relaxation protocol is a systematic set of exercises designed to help your dog relax in a variety of situations. Tasks are grouped into units, but work at the pace that your dog can tolerate.

Using even just one or two of these training games and calming methods can help you on the path to a calmer co-existence with your pup!

We are here to support you! If you need our help with your training, book an online initial behavior session.


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