Frustration Tolerance and Impulse Control

Learn how to teach your dog to behave more patiently.

Jolanta Benal, CPDT-KA, CBCC-KA
4-minute read
Episode #112

Tip #2 - Wait for Permission to Go Out the Door

This is an important safety lesson for all dogs, and it’s also a great way to teach dogs to get what they want without barging around. I described the training process in detail in an earlier article. It’s basically the same way you teach waiting for supper. Pick a time when you feel patient, your dog has already had some exercise, and you know she isn’t desperate to pee and poop. Put on her leash, ask her to sit, and reach for the door handle. If she gets up, which she probably will, take your hand away and give her the sit cue again. Then reach for the door. If she gets up, repeat.

Many dogs can succeed at waiting for you to open the door at the very first training session, though they will probably need much more practice to hold their sit every time you get ready for a walk. If your dog is extra-impatient, don’t expect too much of her at first. Stick with what she can handle without getting agitated, and call it a success if you can touch the door handle while she holds her sit. At that point, give her permission to get up as you open the door. (Remember that you should have her on leash for her safety.) In later sessions, slowly build up her ability to hold her sit while you open the door all the way.

Tip #3 - Reward Patient Behavior

Suppose Zippy’s ball has rolled under a cabinet and he can’t reach it. He’s pawing at it, and in a moment he’ll start trying to dig his way under the furniture while barking furiously. Seize the moment! Before he gets completely worked up, ask him to sit or down, then get the ball and give it to him. Hey presto, you’ve just rewarded him for acting patient in a situation where, if you left him to his own devices, he’d blow up.


About the Author

Jolanta Benal, CPDT-KA, CBCC-KA

Jolanta holds professional certifications in both training and behavior counseling and belongs to the Association of Professional Dog Trainers and the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants. She also volunteered with Pet Help Partners, a program of the Humane Society of the United States that works to prevent pet relinquishment. Her approach is generally behaviorist (Pavlovian, Skinnerian and post-Skinnerian learning theory) with a big helping of ethology (animal behavior as observed in non-experimental settings).