Training “wait” is one way to teach your dog to display some patience. “Wait” is exactly what the name implies: waiting for a release before doing something. Many dog people already perform this exercise at mealtimes, but it is a very useful behavior just about any time. For example, teaching your dog to wait before passing through a doorway, going down stairs, or exiting the car can be not only more pleasant for you, but also more safe for everyone.
The reward for waiting is being released and allowed to continue. It’s not necessary to use food with this behavior. As you will see below, I only use food after the wait to get some additional attention after the release. Over time your dog will learn that good things come to he who, well, waits!
When you train “wait” you use a release word, just like with “stay.”. Most people use “OK!” for this. It’s important to be sure that your dog does not move until she hears your release. It’s also good to get in the habit of only releasing your dog when her attention is on you, so you will see me wait for my dog to make eye contact with me before I release him.
Do not use the leash to stop your dog. Use your body to block her and/or occupy space. Doing this you can convey what you want your dog to do without using the leash or even touching her.
I also add an extra step to the exercise. After the release I wait for eye contact from my dog and then mark it with a “yes” and reward my dog.
In the video below I use a pair of traffic cones to demonstrate training Gage how to “wait” at a doorway.
The video is broken down into 4 nominal steps:
- First, get a brief moment of hesitation at the “door.”
- Next, pivot in front of your dog and add a bit more duration. (Gage doesn’t try to get past me, if your dog does, block her way like a soccer goalie.)
- Keep pivoting in front and add a few steps backward before the release.
- Get rid of the pivot.
There is a brief handout on training this here.