Impulse Control: What It Is and How to Teach It
What is impulse control?
Impulse control is self-control for your dog. Training your dog to sit quietly and patiently wait for his dinner is an example of impulse control.
Impulse control is an important thing to teach any dog, and Havanese are no exception! You’ll find your dog to be calmer, quieter, and more patient. It’s also a great preventative against some troublesome behaviors. For example, if you teach your Havanese puppy to sit calmly at the door when someone knocks, then you can curb behavioral issues later on centered around strangers coming to the door; e.g. barking, growling at visitors. While Havanese are a gentle, friendly breed by nature, it is still important to give them the best tools possible!
How do I train impulse control?
You’ll start with some treats of low to moderate value to your Havanese, enough to keep him interested in the game, but not so valued that he cannot focus on anything but the food.
Sitting on the floor, grab a small handful of the treats and put your treat-filled fist at your Havanese’s level. They will begin to try anything to get to those delicious treats; pawing, whining, whatever is required! Once your Havanese gives up on attempting to pry the treats from your hand, reward them with a treat from your other hand.
Keep repeating this process until your dog ignores your fist as soon as it’s presented, with no attempt to get at the treats. Then slowly open your first to reveal the treats inside. If your Havanese rushes to get the treats, quickly close your fist again. Repeat this until your Havanese is leaving your handful of treats alone.
Once your Havanese is no longer trying to nab a treat from your open hand, you can move on to the final step! With your palm full of treats presented, slowly take a treat from the pile in your hand and reward your dog with it. Repeat this several more times and introduce this game as part of your training rotation to keep fresh on it.