January 27, 2010

Anyone who has owned a puppy knows how wild and unruly they can be. Sometimes they seem hyper and uncontrollable. Unfortunately, many follow bad advice and punish unruliness, not realizing that the key to managing a rowdy puppy lies in teaching self-control, even if the puppy is in an excited state.

One of the best ways to teach your puppy self-control, is to teach her the "Wait" command. The easiest way to do this is by utilizing your puppy's crate. When it is time for your puppy to come out of the crate, after waking up in the morning, for example, she is most likely very excited and ready to charge through when you open the crate door. Control this impulse by tossing a few tasty treats into the crate as you open the door. Then place your hand on her chest and say "Wait".

Now, gradually eliminate giving the treats and blocking her exit. Also, you will need to gradually transition the placing a hand on her chest, to holding your hand up, palm facing toward the puppy, and moving it from side to side. This will now be the hand-command for "Wait". Eventually, your puppy will learn to wait just by verbal and/or visual command.

Remember, expect only a few seconds of compliance at first. Then, increase the time as your puppy gains self-control. When it is time for your puppy to exit the crate, give her permission to do so by saying "Go" or something similar.

Once you teach your puppy to wait before exiting her crate, you are well ahead on teaching Wait for other uses. For example, you may want your dog to wait for permission to go through open doors or gates. In this case, start with your puppy on a leash beside you and close the door. Now, say "Wait", while looking down at your dog and using the hand signal, and reach for the door knob. If your puppy moves when you do that, drop your hands to your side, wait 5 seconds and try again.

When your puppy no longer moves as you reach for the door knob, try opening the door about an inch. If she moves, close it (be sure not to close it on her nose). Now, work on this until she waits. Now, release her & give her permission by saying, "Go" as you open the door. As your puppy's Wait improves, you can open doors gradually wider before releasing her to go through.

Practice this command every time your puppy exits her crate and every time she enters and exits the house, fenced-in yard, and car. Eventually, you will be able to open a door or gate all the way and your dog will wait politely for permission to go through.

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