Self-Control – The Reason You Aren’t Getting Real-Life Results (You aren’t using Real-Life Pulse!)

Close your eyes and think for one moment what is the one thing that you absolutely love to do? No-one has to pay you for it, no-one needs to ask you to do it….it lights you up, makes you feel alive, excites you…. and if you could do it right now you would do it without question…you love it THAT much?

For me that has to be something involving speed acceleration and adventure….. Like a roller coaster ride, a ride on a motorcycle, taking off on an aeroplane……. Whilst these things aren't necessarily what excite everyone, these things I love, it's part of my personality and I inherently enjoy doing adventurous things.

I don't need any incentive to do any of these things, they make me feel alive, excited…. I just want to do it again and again and again…..woooo hooooo!

Now, put yourself into the shoes, or the paws of your dog, and ask the same question….?

What is the one thing that you absolutely love to do…… no one needs to ‘pay’ you for it, no one needs to ask you to do it, it lights you up, makes you feel alive, excites you, and if you could do it right now you would do it without question?  You just love it THAT much……

Now, every dog is different and every dog has a different things they truly LOVE….

  • Chase
  • Fetch
  • Carry
  • Tug
  • Hold
  • Shake
  • Grab
  • Herd
  • Dissect
  • Bark
  • Howl
  • Run
  • Swim
  • Catch…….the list goes on

They find one or more of their loves inherently enjoyable….to the exclusion of everything else.

When your dog is faced with that thing they inherently love and the desire to engage in that activity is overwhelming…..but it’s not the right time or place for you.

You’ve probably been told to compete with that thing by making yourself more exciting to be with. Maybe you’ve been advised to reward your dog with something they love, a toy, a treat…. and that will lead you to success.  In some ways it will….but only up to a point and for REAL LIFE super exciting distractions, it often fails.

WHY IS FAILURE SO COMMON? Because there’s a piece of the puzzle missing!

We just released a free video dog training series on exactly this and how you can get it with 3-Minute games - hit the link:


What happens to your dog when they see the thing they love so much….Do they

  • Stop listening to you?
  • Go Deaf?
  • Runs towards the thing they love?
  • Fail to respond to your commands?
  • Fail to even notice you?
  • Become frantic?

Sound familiar…..?

All these things do actually happen and it’s not necessarily disobedience, it can more often be the inability to think in arousal.

Very real physiological changes can happen: hearing shuts down, tunnel vision, laser focus on the distraction… the exclusion of everything else around.

To achieve IMPULSE CONTROL, first you need a PULSE (create real desire for something) and when you have that real desire, ask for a simple behaviour…..can they do it?

Can they respond to your words in the face of high arousal?

If not, then you can guarantee your dog won’t recall from that squirrel, that passing jogger, that super interesting scent in the woods.

The more they get the opportunity to engage in the activity they love, the more likely they are to keep doing it.

The more they get chance to rehearse, the stronger and stronger the behaviour becomes.

So HOW do we teach our dogs to think in high arousal?

We teach our dogs the concept of self control or impulse control and we can do that through the power of games.

Let us introduce you  to one of our favourites….The Whip Game. You can watch us play it here:

Everyone loves the Whip Game – it’s so much fun and it is super high value. Possibly one of the most exciting games you could play with your dog and for sure if you have a chaser this is the game to play!

For this game all you will need is a horse lunge

whip and a fluffy toy attachment. Most dogs naturally love the whip, but if they don’t then don’t worry – you can easily develop this and we show this in the webclass:

It’s also a super way of exercising a dog with limited space or time, this game has many many endless purposes and creates that real-life self-control that will allow you to recall your dog from other dogs, critters or things they might be worried about!

Be sure to keep your sessions short, warm your dog up beforehand and cool them down afterwards.

There are 3 main stages to the game….

Step 1….Build Desire

Let them chase and win win win!

Step 2…..Flip for Control

Flip the toy and when your dog chooses to stop….

Step 3….Release to play!

….release to chase again.*

Boom!  You’re reinforcing the CHOICE to stop with the opportunity to ‘chase’….(replace ‘chase’ with any word from the list of things they love above)

(*Build on these steps first before stepping things up a gear asking for a behaviour while the chase is on to truly super charge your dogs ability to get success.)

This is HUGE!

Why is this so pivotal in the way you think about training for real life?

For a choice to be possible, your dog needs to be able to think in high arousal (when life gets exciting!)…you can’t achieve that if you never PRACTICE being able to ever think and do when life get super exciting.

In real life this is….

  • being able to sit when your dog wants to say hello to that passer by….
  • this is your dog recalling to you when a football is kicked at the park….
  • this is your dog being able to hear you say ‘middle’ when they see a dog they might normally react to….the list goes on

We are covering all of this and more in our latest free video training series for dogs that might struggle to focus, control themselves or react to things in the environment. Hit the link, we’ll see you on the other side:

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Positively Expert: absoluteDogs

Tom is a veterinarian, clinical behaviourist and companion and sports dog trainer, providing a unique perspective on all things dog.


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