March 22, 2015 by Julia
When I come home, this is what I typically see:
I have talked a little about teaching impulse control in a previous post, but what about a dog’s natural impulse control? Just like humans, some have more than others. It has been interesting living with two dogs of the same breed with a lot of similar habits and traits, but such vastly different personalities and qualities.
Arriving home is a clear example of their natural impulse control.
Delta chooses to sit and wait – we didn’t teach her that or even encourage it, that’s just how she decided she would do things. That isn’t to say she greets me calmly. As soon as I say hello and step inside, she’s dancing around, spinning and jumping, sometimes even squealing with joy. But she holds back that initial urge and waits until I’m accessible.
Dash is like the old lyrics – “so excited and just can’t hide it!” He has his nose so close to the door before it opens, it is a wonder he hasn’t been smacked in the face. As you can see, my example photo couldn’t even be from the “entering the house” perspective – from the camera’s perspective he is a literal blur of motion once the door opens. The photo above was taken when Aaron had just pulled into the garage.
This one trait has a major impact on their everyday lives and our training together.
Dash’s behavior issues tie into and are compounded by a lack of good impulse control. Thankfully he’s smart and biddable so he can be taught the skills. His tendency to get adrenalized and low tolerance for frustration has made that learning a struggle, but we are making progress. It is hard and rewarding work.
In contrast, Delta’s progress in sport training has been in part because of her healthy dose of impulse control. We haven’t been in the ring much and we still have a lot to learn, but her ability to *not* do things gives us an advantage. Obedience stays, start lines in agility, even learning the bark and hold when we were doing IPO. Being able to wait for the next thing gives us a leg up. She needs to be taught the rules but her control allows her to be more successful in following them, even when she’s excited, without a lot of nagging from me.
What about your dogs? Who has impulse control and who needs a little help? Can you think of an example that shows which end of the spectrum they land on?