Controlling your dog’s impulses when they are young are important if you want them to be a balanced adult dog.
Dog’s impulses can include running frantically up and down stairs, pushing people in their path, jumping straight through car doors, rushing into their crate, digging in the garden, and splashing about their paws in their water bowl.
Hence it is necessary to teach them to control this behaviour.
As adults we too exhibit impulses, they are nothing but whims or things we do for instant gratification without bearing in mind the consequences of our actions.
Knowing that we are doing it in the first place and identifying impulses is the key to tackling them.
Impulsivity in humans can be a result of certain mental health disorders like ADHD, Bipolar Disorder, Depression, and substance use disorders, and can be present in children and adults from all walks of life.
For adults impulses can occur when we buy things we just don’t need, because we saw them in the store and it caught our eye.
Or it could be when we walk through traffic without thinking in the midst of speeding cars, or binge eating, and indulging in things we know are not good for us like dessert and unhealthy greasy foods.
For our canine counterparts this occurs differently.
Dog’s jump or nip at human’s hands, can dive head first into things when chasing a rat, squirrel, or bird, and run to far of places and ignore when called.
They can even just charge straight at the counter for food, or their own food bowl without being told they can do so.
Impulse control or self control needs to be learned.
What this means is that as an owner, you need to teach your dog basic obedience when they are young.
The essential commands such as sit, stay, down, heel and name recall- that is: coming to you when called.
The moment your dog learns these things it will be easier to control impulses, and lessen the frequency of the occurrence from happening.
Ofcourse all impulses cannot be completely eradicated, but the main ones can be, to prevent the need of instant desire and gratification in your dog.
What you need to do is to understand your dog well. What motivates these impulses? What is it through their body language are they signaling that they want?
Is it food? Is it a play toy? Do they wan’t to go down for a walk?
Knowing your dog’s behaviour and psychology is the key to tackling the impulse. The better you know your dog inside and out, what makes them tick, what makes them happy or upset, curious, is the way to know where there attention is going, based on impulse.
Teaching your dog to sit and wait before the food bowl is placed on the ground, to making sure that they stand by your side while you clip their leash for a walk outside, or asking for a toy are all signs of good behaviour that needs to be taught in the puppy stages, and reinforced in the adult stages as well.
When they exhibit this good behaviour it is important for (you) the owner to reward them.
Positive reinforcement and reward-based training is also the key to tackling these impulses. The more you reward your dog for their good behavior with a high value treat, the more likely they are going to repeat this behaviour in the future.
If you are having a difficult time managing your dog’s impulses, it is best to see a professional dog trainer to help you correct this behaviour, so that you can have a calm, confident pooch who is in control of him/herself.