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How to build impulse control in high-energy dogs

High-energy dogs are a joy to have around, but their boundless energy can sometimes make it challenging to teach them impulse control. However, with the right training techniques and consistency, you can help your furry friend develop the self-control they need to thrive. In this article, we will explore effective methods to build impulse control in high-energy dogs.

Understanding Impulse Control in Dogs

Before diving into the training techniques, it’s essential to understand what impulse control means for dogs. Impulse control refers to a dog’s ability to resist immediate gratification or impulses, allowing them to make better choices and avoid impulsive behaviors. It helps dogs develop self-discipline and patience, leading to improved focus, better manners, and a stronger bond with their owners.

Training Techniques for Building Impulse Control

1. Engage in Regular Exercise – High-energy dogs need plenty of physical exercise to burn off excess energy. Regular walks, play sessions, and interactive toys can help tire them out, making it easier for them to focus and stay calm during training sessions.

2. Start with Basic Obedience Training – Teaching your dog basic commands, such as “sit,” “stay,” and “leave it,” provides a solid foundation for impulse control. Practice these commands in different environments with varying distractions to gradually increase their self-control.

3. Use Positive Reinforcement – Reward-based training is highly effective when it comes to building impulse control. Use treats, praise, and toys as rewards to reinforce good behavior. For example, reward your dog for staying calm when greeting visitors or waiting patiently for their meals.

4. Implement “Wait” and “Stay” Commands – Teaching your dog to wait patiently before entering or exiting doors, getting out of the car, or receiving their meals helps develop impulse control. Start by asking your dog to sit and stay, gradually increasing the duration before giving them permission to proceed.

5. Practice the “Leave It” Command – Teaching your dog to leave objects, food, or other distractions alone is a crucial skill for impulse control. Start by holding a treat in your closed hand and saying “leave it.” Reward your dog with a treat from your other hand when they no longer try to get the treat in your closed hand.

6. Engage in Mental Stimulation – High-energy dogs also require mental stimulation to keep their minds engaged. Puzzle toys, treat-dispensing toys, and scent games can help redirect their energy and build focus.

7. Gradually Increase Distractions – As your dog becomes more proficient in basic commands, gradually introduce distractions during training sessions. Start with mild distractions and work your way up to more challenging ones, reinforcing impulse control in various situations.


Q: My high-energy dog gets easily distracted during training sessions. How can I improve their focus?

A: To improve your dog’s focus, start training sessions in a quiet and familiar environment. Gradually introduce distractions, keeping them at a manageable level. Additionally, ensure your dog receives enough exercise before training sessions to help them burn off excess energy.

Q: How long does it take to build impulse control in high-energy dogs?

A: The time required to build impulse control varies depending on the individual dog and their training consistency. With regular training sessions and patience, noticeable improvements can often be seen within a few weeks. However, it’s important to continue reinforcing impulse control throughout your dog’s life to maintain their training.

Q: Are there any specific breeds that struggle more with impulse control?

A: While individual dogs may vary, certain breeds known for their high energy levels, such as Border Collies, Jack Russell Terriers, and Australian Shepherds, can sometimes exhibit more difficulty with impulse control. However, with proper training and consistent reinforcement, impulse control can be developed in any breed.


Building impulse control in high-energy dogs requires patience, consistency, and positive reinforcement. By implementing the training techniques mentioned above and tailoring them to your dog’s personality and energy levels, you can help your furry companion develop self-control, focus, and better manners. Remember, training should be a fun and rewarding experience for both you and your dog.

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