Dog Training Today with Will Bangura for Pet Parents, Kids & Family, Pets and Animals, and Dog Training Professionals. This is a Education & How To Dog Training Podcast.

Dog Training Today with Will Bangura: #142 Mastering Your Dog's Impulse Control Part 1

January 04, 2024 Will Bangura, M.S., CBCC-KA, CPDT-KA, FFCP is a World Renowned Dog Behaviorist, Certified Dog Behavior Consultant, Certified Professional Dog Trainer, and a Fear Free Certified Professional with over 36 years of experience with the most difficult of Season 5 Episode 142
Dog Training Today with Will Bangura: #142 Mastering Your Dog's Impulse Control Part 1
Dog Training Today with Will Bangura for Pet Parents, Kids & Family, Pets and Animals, and Dog Training Professionals. This is a Education & How To Dog Training Podcast.
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Dog Training Today with Will Bangura for Pet Parents, Kids & Family, Pets and Animals, and Dog Training Professionals. This is a Education & How To Dog Training Podcast.
Dog Training Today with Will Bangura: #142 Mastering Your Dog's Impulse Control Part 1
Jan 04, 2024 Season 5 Episode 142
Will Bangura, M.S., CBCC-KA, CPDT-KA, FFCP is a World Renowned Dog Behaviorist, Certified Dog Behavior Consultant, Certified Professional Dog Trainer, and a Fear Free Certified Professional with over 36 years of experience with the most difficult of

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Imagine a world where your dog navigates the chaos of a squirrel chase with the poise of a Zen master. In our latest conversation, we celebrate National Train Your Dog Month by unfolding the secrets to mastering your dog's impulse control. Say goodbye to the days of tug-of-war with your pooch at the sight of every passing bike, and hello to serene walks in the park. We tackle a lineup of exercises that will transform your furry friend's reactions to high-stimulation scenarios, and lay out three New Year's resolutions that every dog owner should embrace.

Training your dog can be as satisfying as savoring that first sip of coffee in the morning—if done correctly. This episode is your guide to ditching the intimidation tactics and embracing the power of positive reinforcement. We've dissected the science behind nurturing an obedient and happy canine through incremental challenges in distance, duration, and distraction. As we traverse the journey of training together, we celebrate each mistake as a stepping stone to success, providing a sanctuary of patience and consistency for your four-legged companion to thrive.

To wrap up, I extend a heartfelt thanks for joining me on this adventure in dog training and offer a sneak peek at the exciting year ahead. Your support means the world, and I can't wait to share the new topics and interviews we have in store. Remember to mark your calendars for our monthly Facebook Live Q&A sessions, where I'll be on hand to answer all your pressing training questions. Here's to a year of growth, learning, and the unbreakable bond we share with our dogs. Let's make every interaction with our furry best friends count!

Support the Show.

If you need professional help please visit my Dog Behaviorist website.
Go here for Free Dog Training Articles

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Send us a Text Message.

Imagine a world where your dog navigates the chaos of a squirrel chase with the poise of a Zen master. In our latest conversation, we celebrate National Train Your Dog Month by unfolding the secrets to mastering your dog's impulse control. Say goodbye to the days of tug-of-war with your pooch at the sight of every passing bike, and hello to serene walks in the park. We tackle a lineup of exercises that will transform your furry friend's reactions to high-stimulation scenarios, and lay out three New Year's resolutions that every dog owner should embrace.

Training your dog can be as satisfying as savoring that first sip of coffee in the morning—if done correctly. This episode is your guide to ditching the intimidation tactics and embracing the power of positive reinforcement. We've dissected the science behind nurturing an obedient and happy canine through incremental challenges in distance, duration, and distraction. As we traverse the journey of training together, we celebrate each mistake as a stepping stone to success, providing a sanctuary of patience and consistency for your four-legged companion to thrive.

To wrap up, I extend a heartfelt thanks for joining me on this adventure in dog training and offer a sneak peek at the exciting year ahead. Your support means the world, and I can't wait to share the new topics and interviews we have in store. Remember to mark your calendars for our monthly Facebook Live Q&A sessions, where I'll be on hand to answer all your pressing training questions. Here's to a year of growth, learning, and the unbreakable bond we share with our dogs. Let's make every interaction with our furry best friends count!

Support the Show.

If you need professional help please visit my Dog Behaviorist website.
Go here for Free Dog Training Articles

Speaker 1:

Happy 2024 everyone. Did you know that January is National Train your Dog Month? Yeah, so one of the things that I wanted to do, one of the things that I thought was pretty cool that I would put together for this podcast, would be talking about what I believe is one of the most important exercises that you can teach any dog of any age, and that's impulse control. I want you to think about it. Most pet parents, when they're frustrated with their dog's behavior, a lot of it tends to fall into the category of a dog that gets overstimulated or a dog that doesn't have good impulse control and they lose control of the dog. And this could be in situations where there are a lot of distractions. This could be in a situation where the dog is just overstimulated. Well, don't go anywhere. We're gonna talk all about this in 60 seconds.

Speaker 2:

Raised by wolves with canine DNA and his blood. Having trained more than 24,000 vets helping you and your fur babies thrive, live in studio with Will Bangura answering your pet behavior and training questions. Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome your host and favorite pet behavior expert, will Bangura.

Speaker 1:

Would you like to go on Well, good day dog lovers. As I said in the opener, happy 2024. In January is National Train your Dog Month. So one of the things that I wanted to do, as I said in the opener, was to kind of help you guys to understand what are some ways that you can teach your dog to have impulse control. What are some ways that you can begin to teach your dog. Hey, just because there might be a lot of stimulation in the environment, just because there might be a lot of distractions, doesn't mean that you have to engage in every single thing that's going on. And so teaching impulse control really can be beneficial for those very challenging high stimulation environments where you struggle to be able to manage and control your dog in a way where your dog kind of lets go of and kind of ignores the distractions. But you're going to see that what I have today are 20 different exercises. Each one of these exercises is geared towards teaching impulse control, and one of the things I want you to do for 2024, if you're a regular listener to dog training today, I want you to set a New Year's resolution and if there are only three things that you teach your dog this year or in January. But sometimes teaching three things in a month is a lot depends on the dog and how quickly they can learn. But the three things that I'm going to encourage you to set goals for are to teach your dog. Number one impulse control. Number two, to come when called, no matter what. And number three, to have your dog stay, whether that is having your dog lay down and stay, whether it's telling your dog to go to its place, its bed, its mat, its spot, and stay. So those three things I think are absolutely critical. Think about it. If your dog does not lose it, no matter what the distractions, no matter how much excitement, no matter how much stimulation, your dog can stay focused and listen to you and respond to cues that you're giving, asking the dog to do certain behaviors. So impulse control is absolutely critical. You cannot get your dog's attention if your dog has really poor impulse control and you're in an environment where there's a lot going on. So impulse control absolutely critical. So set a goal in 2024.

Speaker 1:

I'm going to make sure that my dog, no matter how old I don't care if this is an eight week old puppy, I don't care if it's a 13, 15 year old dog. You can teach impulse control at any time, but make that one of your goals and make another goal for 2024. I'm going to train my dog to come every single time. I call my dog to me, no matter what, no matter the distraction, no matter how much stimulation, no matter how much craziness is going on around your dog.

Speaker 1:

And then again, the third thing teaching your dog to stay, and I'm talking about a solid stay. You ask your dog to lay down or to sit, or to go to its bed or go to its spot or place. You want to make sure that your goal is that your dog will stay, no matter how crazy and insane the distractions are. So I want you to think about this. Picture this, imagine this Imagine you have a dog that pays attention to you in any environment and has phenomenal impulse control. Imagine a dog that will come to you when called, every single time, doesn't matter what the crazy distractions are, doesn't matter how stimulating the environment is. Your dog comes every time, no matter what, without fail. And then, third, you can get your dog to stay and to stay put, no matter how crazy, how insane the distractions are, no matter how insane, no matter how crazy the energy or the stimulation is in the environment for your dog. Imagine if you had those three things and they were solid and they were reliable and they had permanence of behavior. You can pretty much manage your dog in just about 99.9% of situations just by having those three things taught very well. So I want to encourage you for 2024, that is my idea that I think would be a great goal for all pet parents to achieve in 2024.

Speaker 1:

Now let's also talk about the fact that in 2024, more and more and more trainers, more and more and more pet parents are understanding that there's modern dog training and modern dog training is science-based, it's evidence-based and it's done with all positive reinforcement, no punishment. So what does that mean? That means no corrections. That means that there's no discomfort, because when we're talking about a correction, that's just a more politically correct term for punishment, and when we're talking about punishment, it is about attempting to stop unwanted behaviors by causing discomfort to the dog. In 2024, those modern dog trainers, those that are educated, those that are certified, know that there is a plethora of scientific research papers out there that show that you can train in any behavior with positive reinforcement and you can train out any behavior with positive reinforcement that the use of corrections, the use of punishment, the use of aversive tools or anything that causes your dog fear, pain or intimidation or even the slightest bit of discomfort is unnecessary. It's just not necessary. Any trainer out there that tells you that punishment corrections are necessary here's what I have to say. They are probably very well-intended, they've got good intentions, but if they feel that they have to use punishment, they have to use corrections. All that means is that they are just not a highly skilled trainer with positive reinforcement. There are trainers all over the world that are positive reinforcement trainers, that are force-free trainers, that train without fear, without pain, without intimidation, without using choke chains and prong collars and shock collars.

Speaker 1:

We don't need to cause discomfort in order to matter of fact, in order to learn and to remember. If there's fear, pain, intimidation or discomfort, you are creating anxiety and stress and learning is going to diminish. Think about the times that you learned the most. I bet for a lot of you it was times when you were being taught. Yet you were having fun. It was enjoyable, and if there's one thing that we wanna make sure that is enjoyable and fun, that's training your dog, training your puppy, doesn't matter what the age. It should be fun for you, it should be fun for your dog. This should be the highlight of your day and if this is the time that you spend a lot of attention, engagement, love, praise, affection, rewarding the dog with high value food, rewards for doing an exceptionally good job, responding to cues, positive reinforcement is what modern dog training is all about.

Speaker 1:

Only old school, archaic dog training uses corrections and punishment. When you start hearing buzzwords like you need to show your dog who's boss, you need to be alpha, you need to do an alpha role, you need to make sure that you're at the top of your pack, and they start talking pack structure. All of that stuff has been disproven. I know you might not be aware of it, but there's lots of studies out there. Matter of fact, the researcher that first published and was talking about hierarchy structure, pack structure being alpha, the alpha male, the alpha female Dr Metsch. He said that his research was wrong, that he was doing it on wolves and captivity, not domesticated dogs, and it's very different for domesticated dogs.

Speaker 1:

But let's talk about impulse control. There are some very specific exercises that you can work on with your dog in order to be able to get great impulse control from your dog. One of those is to teach your dog to sit and stay. Any type of stay exercise whether it's sit and stay, lay down and stay go to your bed, your place, your spot, your mat and stay. Your dog can't be staying and reacting to distractions, reacting to lots of energy and stimulation in the environment at the same time. Your dog would have to give up the behavior of staying in order to go with its impulses. So one of the most important things about teaching a stay stay exercise for your dog is not just about having a super reliable stay. It's also the beautiful unintended consequences of that. The dog learns to have better impulse control and it learns to have a higher tolerance for frustration, because dogs that have poor impulse control they get frustrated very easy. So doing things like I said teaching your dog to sit and stay, lay down and stay, go to your bed or place and stay, teaching your dog to wait at doors and gates you know, if you spent five minutes a day working on teaching your dog to sit and stay, it's not gonna take long before you start seeing reliability in more distracting environments.

Speaker 1:

The thing about all of these exercises, when we're talking impulse control. You in many of them, want to start off with very low level distractions, but you better train with distractions. What good is your training If your dog doesn't listen and pay attention, when all heck is breaking loose and things are crazy? That's when you need the training to work. So it's really important. But what I want to say is that anytime you're training your dog and you are unable to keep your dog focused and your dog has poor impulse control and is just reacting and I don't necessarily mean an aggressive way reacting. It could be your dog is very excited, but your dog's reacting, responding to the environment and all the energy and the craziness in the environment. So we're gonna teach the dog to do several things that are gonna help with all of that Teaching. Your dog already said it's a sit and stay, lay down and stay, go to its bed and stay, go to its mat and stay, go to place and stay, place and stay whatever you wanna call it your dog bed and stay, but teaching your dog to stay.

Speaker 1:

The other thing, like I said, waiting at doors, also waiting at gates. Now, if every day you spent five minutes proactively teaching your dog to wait when you open the door and what I recommend that you do have your dog wait about three feet before, three feet behind where the door opens. You know what a doorstop is. Some homes don't have those anymore. When I was a kid, every home had a doorstop. Some kids today they don't even know what a doorstop is. Anyway, where the doorstop would be is where you want your dog to be behind when your dog waits. Now, when you ask your dog to wait, one of the things that I want you to do is to drop a treat right between their front legs, take a step back and then go forward, drop another treat between their front legs, take two steps back, then go back and drop two or three treats in the middle between your dog's front legs. Little by little, you are going to add more distance. You're gonna add more duration in terms of how long your dog waits at the door or is doing the sit stay or staying on place. So there are three Ds that we talk about in training Distance, duration and distraction and those are necessary for everything that you're teaching your dog.

Speaker 1:

Okay, when you have your dog wait, turn in front of your dog, face your dog Slowly, make your way out the door, backing up away from your dog so that your eyes are on your dog at all times. If your dog begins to move forward, say, wait, move into your dog. If your dog moved forward from the position you had your dog in, move your dog back to where your dog was, start that process over again. Put a treat down between its front legs, take a step back, then step in, put another treat, then try taking two steps back and forward and drop two treats between your dog's legs. And again, if your dog starts to move forward towards that threshold of the door, I just need you to walk into your dog and guide your dog back. And in the beginning your dog's gonna make mistakes. Your dog doesn't know what to do. So having patience and understanding is critical when you're training your dog.

Speaker 1:

All right, what's another thing that you can work with your dog on that is going to help with impulse control? How about teaching? Leave it? All right now. Teaching your dog to ignore things and say move away from a particular item or food when you ask it to leave it can be critical. Now, one of the ways that I like to begin the process using positive reinforcement. Again, we don't need to use punishment, but using positive reinforcement to teach leave it. I'm gonna have a couple treats in each of my hands and I'm gonna close my hands so the treats are in closed fists. I'm gonna put both hands behind my back. I am going to bring one of my hands out, let the dog smell it and as the dog shows interest, I'm going to say leave it. I'm gonna pull my hand back so the treat goes away from the dog. And then I'm gonna reward the dog by bringing the opposite hand out and giving the food reward. And I'm gonna do that again, and again, and again and again, lots of repetition.

Speaker 1:

The one reason that I like to do it where I've got treats in my hand is because when I start with a closed fist, I can keep the dog from getting the food. I don't wanna lose on this one. Remember, the goal is to have the dog leave it, but I need to create the concept, we need to create that behavior. Your dog doesn't know what leave it is If you've never worked on it, obviously, and so we've gotta teach what leave it is. And one of the things that's really important is doing tradeouts. When you do this, just think about it. If there's something the dog likes and you're taking it away, that's punishment. So we can avoid that by doing tradeouts, and that's exactly what I'm doing as I'm teaching that. All right. So again, doing leave it. Put treats in both hands. Close your hands so they're inside your fists. Both arms behind your back. Bring one arm out. Keep the fist closed with the treat in it. Let your dog smell it. As your dog shows interest, pull that hand back and say leave it. At the same time, wait about a second. Bring your other hand out and give the treats that are in that hand. Practice that Now when I'm working on things like wait at the door or working on sit and stay or working on leave it. I'm going to try to do five, seven, ten repetitions in a row and I'm going to try to do that two, three times a day. So my sessions when I'm training they're short but they're multiple. And you know, I realize everybody's busy and this can be inconvenient. But you know what. You can find ten minutes three times a day to work with your dog, or you can find five minutes four or five times a day or night to train your dog. You don't believe me? Start setting alarms on your phone, and I'm serious about that because you know, let's say that you work outside of the house and you worked eight, ten, twelve hour shift. You're tired, you're exhausted. If you don't set an alarm on your phone to get up and train your dog for five, seven, eight, ten minutes, it's probably not going to happen. So I really encourage you to set those alarms, all right.

Speaker 1:

So the next impulse control exercise I want to talk about is drop it. Now, with drop it, we're training the dog to release an item that they have in their mouth when we ask them to. Okay, let me explain how I like to teach drop it. And I've got two different ways. One I love to do what I call capturing.

Speaker 1:

I'll create a situation where I feel pretty certain, pretty confident, that I can get a dog to pick something up. Maybe the dog is interested in a toy or two or has three or four toys that likes. Well, I may take that toy that the dog likes and I may just lightly. I don't want to get the dog too excited with the toy, I just want the dog excited enough that the dog will pick up the toy. So I'm going to toss it just a little bit and as the dog picks it up and again I'm teaching drop it. As the dog picks up the toy, I am going to label that fetch and when the dog lets it go on its own, I'm not asking for drop, I'm just like I'm not asking for fetch. I'm creating a situation where the dog is going to use its mouth to pick something up and then when that happens, I'm going to associate that with the cue fetch by labeling that behavior when it happens. And I'm going to do that over and over and over. Now if, once the dog picks up the object, I kind of freeze like a tree and I don't engage with the dog. Usually it's not very long before the dog just lets go of the toy, drops the toy. This is where the magic is in capturing. When the dog drops the toy on its own, I want you to label that, create an association with that behavior, because we want that. So when the dog on its own let's go of an object, I just need you to label that, drop it and then reward your dog.

Speaker 1:

Please make sure you are giving your dog some very high value food rewards. And trust me, some people will say, oh, my dog's not food motivated. Every dog is food motivated. You just got to find the right high value food reward. Now, granted, some dogs have more food when I call food drive than others, but there's no such thing as a dog that we can't motivate with food. We just have to find the right thing.

Speaker 1:

All right, we talked about stay and we talked about with teaching stay as an impulse control exercise. You can do this with a sit stay, having your dog lie down and stay to go to its place you know those elevated dog cuts or go to its dog bed or go to a mat or spot, whatever you want to call it. But you're going to want to do proactive distraction training and I've got a rule of three and we do the distraction training to kind of proof the stay. But you got to start with very, very low level distractions. They can't be intense at all and the duration of the distraction has to be just a split second. And you've got to reward the dog immediately when the dog doesn't take the bait.

Speaker 1:

Make it easy for your dog in the beginning to win Very short, very benign distractions and then, little by little, when your dog has success with those, start doing that but add a little more distance to it. Okay, and then start with adding more duration to the distraction. Now, if you keep losing or it should say if your dog keeps losing every time you start to create distance your dog comes out of the stay. That just means that you have not spent enough time positively reinforcing the step before the distance before that you were having success with, and perhaps when you added more distance you didn't do it, just a little bit and slightly. Maybe you took a big leap of distance and maybe it was too much, too soon for your dog. We can only work at the dog's pace, and when things aren't working with your dog. That's communication, that's feedback telling you that there's something that we need to adjust with how we're teaching the dog. It's not an indicator that the dog is stubborn or the dog's not intelligent, because it's all about motivating the dog. That's our job. Okay, all right.

Speaker 1:

What is another impulse control exercise that we can begin to teach your dog? Well, one another one that I absolutely love, and this is one that you can also capture. Oh, let me rewind a second when it comes to drop it. Remember, I was talking about capturing that behavior. I'm going to capture that for a couple of weeks and then, after a couple of weeks, if that's been going well, I'm going to change things up just slightly. I'm going to do everything, the same kind of toss that toy, hoping the dog's going to pick it up. Only I'm going to say drop, I'm going to ask for drop. Now, this is after a couple of weeks of working with it every day, spending about five, seven, 10 minutes a day working on this. Okay, go.

Speaker 1:

The next exercise I want to talk about, for impulse control is another one. We're going to start, before we ask for it, by creating the behavior and labeling it. So we're going to create, capture the behavior, labeling it, making an association. So we're labeling with the cue we want, creating that association. Then immediately rewarding the dog. So teaching the dog to focus, teaching the dog to look at you, to watch, and it's very easy to do. Now you got to make sure and I should have said this in the beginning make sure that you've got a treat pouch on, make sure you've got a bunch of high value food rewards, and they should be not only highly palatable but they should be tiny. Yeah, a food reward when you're training your dog should be about the size of a pea, but it should be yummy. Whatever your dog's chocolate is and I don't mean real chocolate, whatever your dog loves and it can be beneficial to find three different types of food rewards that your dog loves, and very, you know, amongst those three different food rewards as you're training, so your dog doesn't get sick of it, all right.

Speaker 1:

So how do we teach focus, watch, look at me? First of all, pick the cue that you want to use. Are you going to say watch? Are you going to say look at me? Are you going to say focus? All right, we've got our word selected and we're going to start creating the behavior of having the dog look at you, and one of the ways I love to do this is just by saying the dog's name. So the dog's not looking at you, your dog's not looking at you. Begin to say its name, and say it in a cadence If you need to. If the dog doesn't look at you right away, repeat the name over and over. The dog's going to look at you. And, by the way, don't start this in a distracting environment. Start this in an environment where there are little to no distractions. Again, we want to create the behavior, label the behavior and reinforce that and do repetition with that and then eventually we can actually ask for it. All right, so say the dog's name in.

Speaker 1:

Let me give an example. My dog's name is Boo. So if I go Boo and Boo looks at me, the instant Boo looks at me, I'm going to say watch and then I'm going to immediately reward my dog. I'm going to let my dog get distracted. Again, I'm going to say my dog's name, boo. As soon as Boo looks at me, I am going to label that watch and I'm going to reward immediately after that. Timing's everything. So you got to be quick with this. You're creating the behavior of watch. But you are not asking for it, you're labeling it when your dog does look at you when you say your dog's name. So when you say your dog's name, we're trying to get the dog to look at you. Let's say your dog doesn't turn to look at you the first time you say its name. Repeat it like this Boo, boo, boo, watch and reward. So again we can repeat their name. But if we're going on and on and on repeating the name over and over and over and they're not looking at us, well chances are you are in an environment that's way, way, way too distracting. You need to be in a lower level environment that doesn't have those intensive distractions. You're going to get there little by little, baby steps. Again, remember when I said patience and understanding. That's something that's super, super important. All right, I'm going to.

Speaker 1:

I'm going to break up this podcast into a part one and a part two, because I'm trying to keep the podcast a little bit shorter just so that you guys will listen more. Do me a favor, like I said, if you love what we do, please subscribe. You know we've got a lot of listeners that listen. Every week over. We're getting over 11,000, almost 12,000 downloads every week, but very few of you are subscribed. And why do I want you to subscribe? Well, first of all, you never miss a podcast. When I publish it, it's going to notify you. But the other reason why is that when you subscribe to the podcast, we have better rankings, and so our podcast goes up when people are searching for a dog training podcast. And so I want to be able to grow this podcast and help more people.

Speaker 1:

But I need your help and that help what I need. Please subscribe. If you love what we do, give us a five star review. Please tell your friends, tell your family about this, and I'm excited. I'm looking forward to 2024. I'm going to be doing a lot of new topics for 2024. I'm also going to be doing some interviews for 2024 and kind of break things up and for Facebook Live, I'm just going to be doing that the first Saturday of the month and it's going to be Q&A. Have a great day everybody. I'm out of here.

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