Over the years, as a dog trainer, I’ve had multiple opportunities to work with new puppy families of different backgrounds, ways of thinking, and experiences when it comes to dogs and raising a puppy.
But one thing they all have in common is that they thought that I would be coming to their home to teach their pup new tricks when in reality it was them who I was teaching in order to better understand their new four-legged friend, so that they can, in turn, be understood.
During those sessions, we did get chances where I would demonstrate a few tricks and tips that I wanted them to practice with their pup on a daily basis. One of them is my favourite lesson that I know any pup or dog can learn given the opportunity, and that is to wait.
Waiting is something all animals value and know to do and when to do it. However, in our rushed everyday life, it seems like waiting and being patient is not only something we lose from our daily habits but as a result, also make it so our dogs don’t practice waiting for something either.
Sure you might have them sit and wait for their food, but did you know that you can and should be doing this as often as you can? Not only during mealtime.
At such a young age of 9-10 weeks, when I work with a pup one of the first things I do is grab their food bowl with one hand while I shake it a little with the other to get the scent and sound going. This gets the pup’s attention and as they try a little jump or paw at the bowl that’s in my hands, I simply wait and don’t say a word until the pup learns in a matter of 2-3 seconds that I am there to reward him for calmly waiting for their food in front of me, before I start sharing a piece or two with them, still without using a word.
When pups are first born, from day 1 they start to practice waiting. Even if it’s for a few seconds, they’re waiting for their mom to lay on her side and share her milk with them. This requires patience on both fronts while providing the biggest reward they can get. This is all done without little to no verbal cues, but rather silence, patience, and the instinctual need to survive while figuring out just how.
This is instilled in all dogs and any opportunity we get to practice the activity of encouraging the action of waiting for something will always be welcomed and cherished by all involved.