One of the things on Monti’s list of things to learn is self control. Self control doesn’t come naturally to dogs (or to people, for that matter). It’s something that we need to teach our dogs. One of the easiest and fastest ways to help your dog learn self control is to start when your dog is young. The younger the better!
Self control can be taught without any fancy tools (no clicker, no food, no special collars). One of my favorite ways to teach self control to young dogs is to let them figure out that they can get the attention they so desperately seek if (and only if) they put their bum on the ground.
You can do this at home with your dog! Here’s how:
- Hold your dog on his leash (or fasten their leash to a piece of furniture, the back of a doorknob, something sturdy).
- Have someone walk up to your dog, but remain about 1′ – 2′ away from where your dog can reach the helper.
- You and your helper shall remain silent. Silent. Shhhh…
- The instant your dog’s bum touches the ground, your helper will move in and pet your dog (in a calm, quiet way).
- If the dog stands up, that’s ok, your helper can continue to pet your dog.
- If the dog puts his paws on your helper, your helper instantly leaves. And leaves silently. No words, just turn and go.
As your dog realizes that he makes the person come closer or go away, you’ll see your dog start to exert some self control. Because your dog is the one that can make you (or your guest, someone on the sidewalk, whatever) come closer, your dog will give you immediate buy-in. It’s so different than “making” your dog sit to be petted. It’s so much faster to let your dog be in control of whether or not the person approaches.
Try it at home, then come back and leave a comment to let me know how it worked. We do this in our Puppy Charm School class and everyone is amazed at how quickly their pups are sitting when people approach (without ever having to ask!).