by: Levi M.
Dogs are creatures of habit. Even though experts say that dogs
are capable of some level of spatial awareness and critical thinking,
they are still very much driven by instinct. This is why it is
necessary for dog owners to teach their dogs how to curb their
Some owners might say, "But I want my dog to be free!" Of course,
we all want our dog to be happy and to get the most out of their
lives. But without self-control, you are going to have to deal with
behavioral problems such as hyperactivity, or worse, a dangerous and
So how exactly do we teach them self-control?
Identify Sources of Excitement
First, you have to know what usually excites your dogs. Dogs can be
excited by the littlest things, but there are things that arouse them
more than the others. Most dogs go crazy during mealtime. Younger dogs
tend to become incredibly excited the second that you touch their bowls.
They can also become very excited when there are visitors around. Other
sources of excitement are doors being opened, other animals or pets,
and food being cooked in the kitchen.
Use Obedience to Calm Your Dog
Once you recognize these triggers, you then have to work on calming
your dog every time they get too excited. The simplest way to get a
dog’s attention away from the trigger is through commands. For example,
you can ask your doggo to sit or lie down when they start to get fidgety.
If your dog still doesn’t know how to sit or lie down, then you can
refer to our previous guides on basic training. It is crucial that they
know these basic commands because otherwise, you wouldn’t be able to
communicate with them directly and decisively.
Teach Patience By Waiting
If you want to communicate properly with your dog, you have to speak
their language. You have to think in terms of reward and reinforcement.
This is always the case, even when you don't notice it.
For example, if you give them food even after dashing across the room
to get to their bowl, they will interpret the food as a reward for
their behavior. In short, you have rewarded them for behaving improperly
even if you did not intend to do so.
The trick, then, is to make them wait. Before laying down their bowl on
the floor, look them in the eye and wait for them to calm down. Ask them
to sit or lie down. If they ignore your command, leave them for a few
seconds without giving them the food. Then, return and ask them to sit
or lie down again until they obey.
Even after obeying your command, wait until you see their tail wagging
calm down a bit. Eventually, they will learn that you will only give them
the reward (the food) after they calm down.
Do this routine every mealtime or every time you see them show
overly-excited behavior. For example, if you have a guest and your dog
is too jumpy, don’t ‘reward’ them too soon by letting your dog greet
your guest. Let them calm down first in a separate room or hold them
with a leash and wait for them to relax. Only then can you let them
be ‘rewarded’ by your guests’ attention.
This principle applies to a lot of contexts, such as when you are going
out for a walk or playing in the dog park. Controlling their canine
impulses is a matter of habit, so try to be consistent every time your
dog is too enthusiastic to get what they want.
Make Your Dog Work for Your Attention
As we have already said, your dog considers your attention a reward in
itself. This is why it is also necessary to make them work for your
attention. Yes, it might break your heart to ignore your doggo,
puppy-eyes and all, when they are nudging their head on your legs. But
if you give them instant satisfaction with your attention, they will
become needy and whiny, which can be cute but can also be undesirable
To prevent this from happening, ask them to sit or lie down every
time they try to get your attention. Give them attention only after
they have obeyed your command. If you are busy doing something, simply
ignore your dog. This will teach your doggo to be less demanding and
will teach them self-control, too.
Self-control should become part of your dog’s personality. Unlike
tricks which can be taught by simple repetition, self-control is a
habit that can only be proofed by consistency. Make it a part of your
everyday routine and you’ll see your dog become more well-behaved and
less impulsive in no time.