Training a Puppy with Snack

Wait

Wait tells your dog to pause for a bit, take a breath, pump the brakes, before the next action. Wait until... It is excellent for safety and impulse control.

"Wait" for Safety

Teaching your dog to Wait at doorways can prevent a tragedy.

 

Use Wait before letting your dog out of the car to give you time to get a good grip on their leash.

 

Use Wait before letting them outside so they don't take your knees out bursting out the door.

Have them Wait before going out the door for a walk to make sure they are connected with you.   

Teaching your dog to Wait slows and calms them down so they don't knock down vulnerable people with overly excited frenetic behavior. 

 

Sit and Wait while you clip on their leash so you aren't struggling with a jumping and twirling dog.

 

Wait while you put their food down and move out of the way so you don't get popped in the chin by an excited jumping dog. 

Wait and calm down before they say hi to someone so they don't scratch them jumping all over them. 

Step-By-Step

LEVEL 1

"Wait" means 'hold still until you are released'

  1. With your dog on-leash, ask them to 'Sit'. Tell them "good dog" for the Sit but do not give a treat.

  2. Tell them to 'Wait' and give the hand signal (one finger held up as if you were signaling to someone that you are on the phone and can't talk to them right now.)

  3. Pause for a second to make sure your dog is holding the Sit.

  4. Take 3 steps backward, stop and pause for 1-2 seconds. Call your dog to "Come!" 

  5. When your dog gets all the way to you, say "YES!" and feed the treat directly in front of you. 

    If your dog gets up from the Sit before you say "Come", walk back to them and ask them to Sit again. If they break the Sit 3 times in a row, only take one step backward before calling them. If they still break the Sit, only step one leg backward before calling them. 

Success Criteria

Your dog holds the Sit until you give the cue to "Come".

LEVEL 2

Practice in different contexts

  1. Repeat Level 1 in different locations in your home. When they are successful with that, repeat level 1 outdoors.

Success Criteria

Your dog holds the Sit until you give the cue to "Come".

LEVEL 3

Sit still until the leash is attached

  1. Ask your dog to Sit and Wait while you put on their collar or harness and while you clip the leash to it.

  2. If they break the Sit, simply stop what you are doing and Wait (it's a wait exercise for us, too!) until they Sit again. Then resume. 

  3. HINT: it's a good idea to practice this when you are not on a time schedule to be somewhere. That way, you can take all the time you need for your dog to sit still while you get the collar and leash on them. When they've had practice at it and understand that the collar and leash ONLY go on if I'm still, they will do it faster.

Success Criteria

Your dog holds the Sit while you get their collar and leash on.

LEVEL 4

Don't jump out of the car until told to

  1. Tell your dog to Wait as you open the car door while you get their leash in the 'leash lock' hold. 

  2. If your dog is trying to jump out of the car, block them in and wait until they stop. Once again, it's a wait exercise for us, too. I once waited 45 minutes for my dog to stop trying to push his way out of the car. The next time, though, he Waited right away when asked. This is also one to practice when you are not on a time crunch, just in case. 

  3. When you are ready and your dog is not trying to get out, invite them out of the car. 

Success Criteria

Your dog does not try to get out of the car until you invite them to.

LEVEL 5

Wait until released to go out the door

  1. This level is only for dogs who have a secure yard they are let out into. Ask your dog to Sit and Wait at the door to the yard.  

  2. Reach for the door handle and slowly begin opening the door. 

  3. If your dog breaks the Sit, close the door and get them back into the Sit.

  4. Repeat until you can open the door all the way and your dog does not go out. Release them to go out. 

Success Criteria

You can open the door to the yard and your dog does not go out until released.

LEVEL 6

Wait at the start of a walk until cued to start walking

  1. Before you go out the door with your dog, ask them to Sit and Wait at the door.

  2. Reach for the door handle and slowly begin opening the door. 

  3. If your dog breaks the Sit, close the door and get them back into the Sit.

  4. Repeat until you can open the door all the way and your dog does not go out.

  5. Cue your dog "Let's Go" and walk together out the door. You do not have to walk out the door first, as long as they are not pulling on the leash.

Success Criteria

You can open the door for a walk and your dog does not go out until you say "Let's Go".

Wait is an exercise for us, too!

Dogs learn faster and cooperate more with a patient owner. 

There is a saying that dog training teaches you patience. It requires patience on our part to teach a dog to do what you want them to do and behave the way you want them to behave.

When we are impatient because it's not happening fast enough, throw up our hands and give up, they learn it's ok to ignore you. They get what they want anyway. 
It takes patience to stand in your driveway for 45 minutes waiting for your dog to stop trying to push their way out of the car! Waiting for your dog to sit still before you clip their leash on takes patience. Waiting for them to follow the Down or Sit cue when they don't get it right away takes patience. The good news is that it only takes a couple of times of waiting them out for your dog to get the picture, and they will start to do what you ask right away.

It's the Grandma Rule - you can have dessert only if you eat your vegetables first. 
The other good news is that aversive punishment is not necessary to have a cooperative dog. Aversives (jerking the leash, delivering a shock, smacking their nose, etc.) have a high risk of fallout and break your dog's trust in you. Instead, we withhold the thing they want (leash attached, door opened, getting out of the car, etc.) until they do what we asked.