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Teaching your dog to 'wait' is about teaching him patience. You do not want to be bowled over when you are opening the door to let your dog outside. Likewise, if your dog is in a vehicle, you probably don't want him running out of the vehicle until you are ready and have him under your control. Dogs are eager when it comes to meal times and receiving the occasional treats. When your dog is impatient, it makes it difficult for you to prepare his food. Teaching your dog to wait not only teaches him manners but also gives you time to prepare for what's next. Once you teach the command 'wait', you might find you use it often. Dogs are eager and usually impatient. 'Wait' is a command you can use every day once your dog has it mastered.
Teaching your dog the 'wait' command will begin with piggybacking on commands your dog already knows. Putting your dog in a position such as 'sit' or 'down' and asking him to wait might be a little confusing at first for your dog. because he already understands 'sit' and 'down' and may not understand what else you want him to do. Dogs who are just learning the 'wait' command may understand you want them to do something, but because they are not sure what to do, they may stand up and sit back down and stand up again, a little confused as to what your expectations are. Be sure if you are teaching the 'wait' command that your dog already has a complete understanding of simple commands such as 'sit' and 'down' so he can understand which position he should be in while he waits.
As with any other obedience training, to get started you will need to have treats for rewards. To effectively teach your dog to 'wait' you will want a screen door or a gate where you can separate yourself from your dog while allowing him to still see you. You will also want a leash on hand if you’d like to train him to wait while walking on a leash. Have some patience and be prepared for your dog to be a little confused at first until he understands waiting is just being patient.
The Screen Door Method
Put a screen door between you and your dog so he can hear and see you, and ask him to 'sit'.
Ask to wait
Once he is in sitting position, ask him to wait. Hold one hand out, palm facing the dog and screen door.
Open the door
Slowly open the door. If your dog moves, close the door.
Start again with the hand signal and the command word, “wait.”
Keep repeating this process until your dog stays still and waits for you to enter through the door.
Once you can enter without your dog moving, give him a treat. You may have to open and close the door several times before your dog stops moving.
Be sure to reward your dog every time you can open the door and walk through without the dog moving. Each time he moves, close the door and start over.
The From a Crate Method
Hand on the door
With your dog in the crate, place your hand on the crate door.
Before opening the crate door, say the command “wait.”
Open the crate
Open the door a bit.
If your dog moves...
If your dog moves forward, close the door and repeat the command “wait.”
Open the door wider
Each time you give your dog the 'wait' command, open the door a little wider. Each time your dog moves before you are ready, close the door.
Repeat the steps above until your dog remains still while you open the door to let him out.
Once you can get the door open without the dog moving or lunging toward you, let him out with verbal praise and a treat.
The On a Leash Method
Starting in your home or your backyard, begin a small walk with your dog on a leash.
Walk, stop, face
Take a few steps with your dog. Stop. Then face your dog.
With your palm out facing your dog, put your hand up and say the command “wait” while blocking his path forward.
Treat and release
Once your dog stops walking, give him a treat. Wait another few seconds and give your dog a release command such as “release” or "OK".
Wait then repeat
Wait a few seconds and move a few more steps. Repeat the above steps until your dog is used to the command and stopping and staying still when you ask him to wait.
Once he has this down, take a step away from him once you ask your dog to wait.
After a few seconds, release him with the release command and give him a treat.
Practice this with your dog for several weeks before taking him off leash. During each training session, be sure to reward your dog for positive behaviors. With each session, walk farther away from your dog. Reward for waiting and then release your dog.
By Stephanie Plummer
Published: 01/31/2018, edited: 01/08/2021
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