3 Steps to a Better Behaved Dog

puppy on leash
Photo: iStock
Turn your pupper into the most well-mannered pooch on the block.

Impulse control. That little voice in your head that reminds you not to hug all the dogs you pass on your walk to work. That nagging reminder that your pup probably doesn't need another toy, no matter how cute it is. Impulse control keeps our basest desires in check, but it's not something you are born with. Impulse control is a learned behavior.

Children and teenagers lack impulse control. That's why your two year-old throws a tantrum when they don't get what they want. It's why your 16 year-old can't stop texting. And it's not just a human problem.

Adolescent dogs—those between 6 months and 2.5 to 3 years of age—are especially at the mercy of their impulses. It's much harder for an adolescent to stop going after the fun and delicious things in life than it is for an older dog.

Combine this with the hormonal changes taking place in the brain and body during adolescence (think: doggy puberty) and it can sometimes feel like your sweet dog was replaced by a horrifying puppy-shaped monster.

While there is no cure for adolescence, dogs can learn impulse control just like humans. In the exercises below, polite behavior earns your dog a reward, while impolite behavior results in the reward disappearing or moving farther away from your pup.


Say Please

It's been a long week ... Friday night never tasted so good 🍔 (Burger treat by @dashingdawgs_vancity ) #fridaynight
A post shared by Lexy_the_Elderbull (@lexy_the_elderbull) on

Ask your dog to sit or lay down.

  • Hold a toy or bowl of food in one hand and slowly lower it towards your dog. If your dog stands up (or jumps up), immediately make the food/toy disappear behind your back.
  • Ask your dog to sit or lay down again then lower the object once more.
  • Repeat until you are able to get the toy or food all the way down while your dog stays in position.

When you've achieved your goal, let them know they can “Take it!" and allow them to eat or play a quick game of tug.


Find out more about how you can train your dog into a well-mannered pup on Rover.