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

You can find opportunities like this throughout the day. For instance, pick times when Zippy’s resting quietly to show him affection, invite him to play, or take him for a walk.

Tip #4 – Avoid Training Frustration

Modern trainers reward correct responses, while ignoring or preventing mistakes. Once they get the hang of training, most dogs will keep trying even if they make a couple of mistakes in a row and so don’t get a reward. But impatient dogs get … impatient. They may bail out of training or start barking or pawing you. They may even aggress. For these dogs, it’s important to train in the tiniest possible steps, so that they can succeed, and earn rewards, at a high rate. With practice they can learn to accept the occasional missed reward, but as in every situation you’ll need to build their patience slowly.

Many impatient dogs also become agitated around delicious food such as meat and cheese. For these dogs, the rule that high-value treats make the best training rewards doesn’t apply. Use a good dry dog food instead, and keep training sessions short so your dog doesn’t have time to get worked up.

If Your Dog Aggresses When Frustrated, Get Help

These tips should help with most easily agitated dogs. But if your dog snaps, bites, or otherwise gets scary when frustrated, the situation is potentially dangerous. Work with a qualified trainer or behavior specialist who can develop a behavior modification plan tailored to your dog’s needs and yours.

I welcome your comments and questions – email dogtrainer@quickanddirtytips.com. I may use them as the basis for future articles. And you can talk to me on Facebook, where I’m The Dog Trainer. Dogalini is me on Twitter. Thanks for reading, and have a great week.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock


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).