Your dog loves you and wants to make you proud! However, the urge to eat that tissue on the sidewalk or keep playing when you call them back is stronger. Our canine friends aren’t born with the ability to ignore natural tendencies. Training has to last beyond in-class, way, waaaay beyond. You’ve committed to making your dog a part of your family for life, and that includes safety management, which is precisely what recall and impulse control training are for.
You have to teach your dog that coming at your command and ignoring that tissue is The Best Thing EVER! Resign yourself to the fact that training is going to be intense. Days, weeks, months, years…it depends on your dog’s personality, but mostly on your ability to avoid accidentally rewarding bad behaviour. Be prepared to engage in training at every opportunity, no matter if you have friends over or you’re in your own backyard.
The expectation is that your dog will come when you call the first time. That means in training you should only call them once, then go get them. This works best when your dog is wearing a martingale collar attached to a leash or a long lead so that you can demonstrate that they need to “come” where you commanded. Now, remember that we said you need to make the reward worth the effort? Your praise needs to be better than diving after a squirrel in the forest! New Approach
Canine training relies entirely on verbal and physical praise rather than treats. The trick is to always be happy when your dog comes to you. Always! Your dog is always happy to see you, so you should reciprocate. It’s easy! Even when they’re in trouble, you want your dog to come to you willingly so that you can help them out if they have burrs in their fur or have been sprayed by a skunk.
Impulse control training is similar. You want your dog to ignore that tissue on your walk, not bark at everyone that walks by the house, resist stealing food from the table, and jumping on guests without invitation. To start, ensure that your dog gets enough exercise and mental stimulations. They need walks, playtime, attention, and toys so that they understand the ways in which they are allowed to entertain themselves. Training school is a must because there’s more to learn than a blog post can ever describe, and instructors can address individual concerns. Don’t be afraid or embarrassed to go back for a refresher. Reinforce your training at home. Admonish bad behaviour with a stern “No” or similar command, and then redirect their focus to positive behaviour.
Ultimately, your success in training your dog with strong recall and impulse control has to do with you. It’s imperative that you don’t reward bad behaviour. Commanding your dog more than once tells them that they don’t need to come the first time you call. If they get rewarded at the end of the session even if they failed, you’re also telling them that obeying your commands isn’t important at all.