Dog News

Leaping Lab Learning Impulse Control

by Leslie Fisher

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Would you deem the leaping labbie pictured above out of control? Talley is having a blast, that much is a given, however, she is  leaping upon my cue. Left to her own doggy devices, Talley would leap unrestrained towards the bowl employed in bailing out the kiddy pool. You must realize that water, especially water flying through the air is twelve plus out of ten excitement factor for a lab. Learning to control and channel that excitement is what we dog trainers label  impulse control.

We humans may think of impulse control in some of the following ways:

  • Modestly consuming a single scoop cone versus going for broke on that triple decker banana split.
  • Making do with the $50 dress from Kohl`s instead of breaking the bank on the $500 designer dress.
  • Settling for one television in the living room instead of purchasing a fourth for the downstairs powder room. Some humans are better at this than others. (How many T.V.s do you have?)
Polite Talley
Wait Don`t Leap

Above, Talley practices impulse control: remaining down upon cue, prior to my scooping a dish of water from the pool. She also has been cued to wait for my release “all done”  to then leap and catch that flying water. Now how reinforcing is that  for a lab? On the spectrum of impulse control, this is huge. Can you see that every fiber of her being is waiting for that release word? Impulse control is not a behavior that comes naturally to dogs;  it must be taught to them.

Often we are frustrated by doggy behaviors; we must realize dogs do not naturally understand human expectations of doggy behavior. Our furry friends operate by getting what dogs can get for dogs through their behaviors. Why not? Works for us doesn`t it? Wanting our dogs to have some control in the form of good manners is not unreasonable, but it must be taught. Talley would dearly love to run amok as I bail water. However, she learmed  impulse control from an early age, as taught  in my Good Manners classes. Examples of early impulse control exercises are:

  • Sit
  • Sit until released with cue, such as all done.
  • Sit politely to take a treat.
  • Sit politely as a human approaches.
  • Remain down until  “all done” cue is given.
  • Sit and wait while a food dish is being placed on floor.
  • Release a tug toy on cue and calmly sit until cued to “take it” again. All the latter are covered in my Good Manners classes.
tired wet and happy
Wet and Happy Labbie

Is your pup displaying alarming signs of being unable to calm down, like a hyperactive child? Do yourself and the pup a huge favor: consult a qualified professional trainer. This person will direct you to effective and force free methods of teaching  impulse control, prior to  behavior spiralling out of control.  Talley dearly wishes I would let her pool related behaviors spiral out of control, to a leaping labbie free for all. This leaping labbie, however, has impulse control. Wishing you and your pups impulse control until next Friday:

Leslie Fisher PMCT CPDT-KA and the labbies: Bridgey, Talley and Doobie

“your pet positively trained” Cecil County MD