Dog Training: Teaching Your Dog to Wait

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Similar to an informal ‘stay’ command, ‘wait’ is very useful as a safety command. The wait command lets your dog know that he can have what he wants (going for a walk, eating a meal, playing with a toy, etc.) when you give your approval. Dogs are very easily distracted and since they live in the ‘now’, the concept of waiting can be a difficult one for them to grasp. It’s a great command to use before feeding or when opening doors (remember you should never let your dog go through a door in front of you).

The easiest way to begin teaching the ‘wait’ command is to put your dog on a leash and head to your front or backdoor. Place your dog in the ‘sit’ position and give the command “wait”. Open the door a crack. Your dog will probably get up and look to advance through the door. Say in a firm but calm voice “No, wait”. If necessary you can give a gentle correction with the training leash. The correction should be a short, gentle tug upward, it should not be harsh or rough as this will only confuse the dog.

 Wait for a few seconds and give the release command, which you can choose based on what works for you. Words like “okay” or “release” work well. Once the dog begins to understand the concept, increase the amount of time you ask him to ‘wait’. Always praise the dog when he does what you ask. When he does not do what you ask, do not become frustrated and yell at the dog or otherwise punish him. This will do more harm than good and will only confuse your dog and make him distrustful of you in the long run.

A good place to practice the command is when you are feeding. Ask the dog to sit and wait till you give the release command to begin eating his food. This is a good way to reinforce the command and it also establishes your dominance in the pack order simultaneously.

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