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WAIT for Permission - the key to self control

  • Waiting patiently for the okay to go where they want to go, or have what they want to have.  It's is the essence of good manners.  It is the "may I" in the relationship.

  • Waiting for permission is essential for safety.  The dog who waits for permission to go out the door or get out of the car is far less likely to end up in the street.

  • Waiting for permission allows your excitable dog a moment to re-group and calm themselves before being given permission to say hello.  It is essential when your dog's emotions run high. 

  • The dog who learns that everything they want or need happens when they sit quietly and offer their attention and that NOTHING ever happens when they bark and jump and carry on, will choose to be still and give you their attention! 



leave it.jpg


He must wait all by himself, without physical help.  

Not because you are holding him back by his leash or collar!

If he is leaning against the tension of his leash or collar, he is spring loaded to fly forward.  All of his focus is on the target of his excitement, not on you.  He's not "waiting" or asking permission.  He's scrambling toward what he wants, trying to get to it - and away from you.  The only thing keeping him with you is the leash.  Train his brain.



What is a release cue?

It should be a consistent word or phrase: "ok", "all done", "free dog", "that's all!" which tells the dog that the training moment has concluded. In other contexts it might tell the dog that he is free collect his reward or do what he was waiting for permission to do - like eat.


THE RELEASE REWARDS WHATEVER HE WAS DOING OR FEELING AT THAT MOMENT.  Whatever he was doing or feeling at the moment you give the release to eat or go through a doorway, or go meet a person or another animal was reinforced.


"Fido, sit - wait"- (set food bowl on floor) - "ok!" (Dog eats.)


The release is essential for teaching self control.  A dog who sees the handler as the conduit to everything they want and need, sees the handler as a very valuable person in their life - someone they can't live without. When the dog is trained to wait for permission to engage in an activity, the handler has control of his body, even without a leash.


Untrained dogs naturally follow canine rules of conduct:  if they can reach it, it's theirs. If they want it, it should be theirs. If they can get it before another dog can, it could be theirs.  If another dog leaves it's bone unattended, it's a free bone!  Do not have a race with your dog.  Act like a human, not a dog.  Never compete or restrain.  Teach!


Dogs who have no impulse control are frustrated and frustrating for their owners. They throw temper tantrums when they have to wait or are told they can't have what they want. They have no patience.  That frustration will ease when they understand exactly what they CAN do to make what they want happen.  They have access to what they need by performing the ritual that you taught them.


Say "When"!


A release word is like saying "NOW you may go there, do that, have that thing that you want."


The dog's job is to look to you and wait for the go ahead: to go through a door, a gate, in or out of a car. To go greet a visitor or meet another dog. To eat, fetch a ball, or run free in the woods.


Whatever behavior the dog is exhibiting at the time it hears the release word,
was reinforced and more likely to occur or escalate in the future - desired or undesired behavior.


  • If the dog was sitting politely, giving you its full attention, then that behavior will become habit.

  • If the dog was barking, whining, straining at the leash and feeling frustrated, then THAT behavior will become habit.


Which would you prefer?




This handout may be reprinted in its entirety for distribution free of charge and with full credit given:© CAROL A. BYRNES "DIAMONDS IN THE RUFF" Training for Dogs & Their People -ditr_training @ -

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