Teach Your Dog Self-control

Some dogs may inherently have more self-control than others, but proper training can solve most canine behavioral issues.

Self-control is a complex behavior that involves many components. For example, it’s tied to an individual’s state of mind. If you -- or your dog -- are anxious, you will likely feel more jittery and less in control. This can be connected to thyroid function and other health issues, helping to explain why some people may seem more anxious than others.

Self-control, however, is also a product of teaching. When you were younger, your mother probably taught you to sit up straight, be quiet under certain circumstances and more. Without such teaching, you may fall back on other behaviors. The same is true for dogs. As Gerilyn Bielakiewicz and Andrea Mattei point out in their book The Only Dog Training Book You’ll Ever Need: From Avoiding Accidents to Banishing Barking, the Basics for Raising a Well-Behaved Dog, dogs will never develop proper concentration, which is critical to obedience skills, if they do not learn self-control.

Bielakiewicz and Mattei suggest playing the following game with your dog to help teach or reinforce self-control:

1. Go into a quiet room with your dog and sit down. Have a clicker, some dog food treats, a radio or TV, and toys nearby.

2. Wait a while. Appear to ignore your dog, but then suddenly click. When your dog pays attention to you, offer a treat snack.

3. Repeat this a few times.

4. Now, create a distraction. You could turn on the radio, roll a ball on the floor or do something else. The goal is just to distract your furry pal.

5. Now use the clicker. Per before, when your dog pays attention, offer the food reward.

Repeat with various types of distracters.

6. While outside, you might also use the clicker in a controlled situation with another dog, or even a cat, present. The next step would then be to reinforce the “Sit” and “Stay” commands after your dog has learned to pay attention to you. Even if your dog is thinking, “I want to get at that dog!” it will use proper self-control and restraint if it is trained correctly.

by The Dog Daily Expert