Dog Training Tip: Self ControlPublished April 2, 2012
Dog Self Control: Getty
Training a dog can be made a little easier if you pay attention to your dog’s self-control stores.
You may have guessed it already, but a new study from the University of Lille Nord de France has proven that dogs suffer from a psychological phenomenon well-known in humans called “self-control depletion.”
In the same way that a mentally-fatigued human might jaywalk, yell at a slow driver, or pick a fight with their spouse, a dog who’s been exerting self-control will stop thinking straight at some point.
The researchers recruited 10 dogs and trained them to sit still for 10 minutes, thereby exerting self-control. Members of another group were put into a large kennel, where they were free to move around.
Afterwards, the dogs were each walked into a room where one barking, growling dog was caged. Approaching the barking dog was the natural, tempting response, but it was riskier.
So how did they do?
The dogs who sat still beforehand spent more time in close proximity to the aggressive dog compared with those dogs who had not already exerted self-control.
The lesson for humans: time your dog training sessions accordingly. If your dog just spent 20 minutes not jumping up on your nephew (even though he clearly wanted to), give him a break in the yard before reviewing what he learned in his latest obedience class.
Doing the opposite may be even more important. If you’re having company and you want to lessen your dog’s temptation to jump, nip, or bark, resist the temptation to review his “sit, stay” right before they arrive.
Do you take your dog’s self-control depletion into account before working on a new trick or having company over?