Easy Dog Training: 5 ways to incorporate training into your daily life

Dog training doesn’t have to take extra time out of your day. In fact, your puppy can learn the obedience basics of “sit, stay, come, leave it” right at home as part of your daily routine. It still is always good  to supplement basic dog training with additional time – we recommend at least 25 minutes of dedicated training per day. The routine on this post is not enough to fully train a dog so finding a professional dog trainer near your is still important. The ideas below are good for the extra busy days where there aren’t 25 minutes to spare. On those days, there are numerous ways you can make even simple dog training more complicated right at home.  Here are some ways to make basic commands even more challenging for your dog:

two cream retrievers wearing flower collars

golden retriever puppy wearing a flower collar

1. Train Your Dog to Wait Before Meals

Training your dog to wait before eating is one way to develop impulse control from the day you bring your puppy home. Training wait can be done at every meal so the “wait” command does not need to take any additional time from your busy day. Over time, teach your dog to wait longer before allowing them start eating.


  • Before your dog starts eating their meal, tell them to “wait.” Do not let them start their meal until you say “ok.” If your dog immediately tries to eat from the bowl, cover it with your hands. Wait a few seconds, then uncover the bowl and say “ok”
  • Have your dog “wait” before taking a treat so they do not grab the treat from your hand

Make It More Challenging:

  • Have your dog “wait” for 30 seconds before eating
  • Have your dog “wait” for 2 minutes before eating
  • Call your dog to come to you, requiring them to walk past their bowl and not eat their food yet.
  • Instead of saying “ok” as the first word, trick your dog by saying words such as “cat,” “dog,” “anything” to make sure that your dog knows that they can only eat when they hear “OK” not when they hear other words.  You cant your dog to be able to verbally discriminate the word “ok” from the other words so that they don’t begin eating as soon as they hear a human voice.

golden retriever puppy wearing a dr seuss bandana

retriever dogs wearing matching bandanas

2. Train Your Dog to Wait at Doorways, Gates, and Entryways

Teaching your dog to wait at doorways, gates, entryways, ect can start at home and then be applied to many situations. This is an important skill to learn for impulse control but also for safety.  If your dog waits at doors, it won’t bolt outside (and potentially into the street).  The same applies for having your dog wait before jumping out of the car.


  • Start at a closed door. Open the door, but make sure your dog doesn’t walk through (you may have to use your leg to keep him back). Once you step through ahead of your dog, turn around and release him with “ok.”
  • Always use a release word for your dog such as “ok,” “free,” or “release”

Make It More Challenging:

  • Tell your dog to wait and walk through an entry way (no door).
  • Tell your dog to wait before jumping out of the car
  • Add distance by walking further away before turning around and releasing your dog
  • Tell your dog to wait and walk through the doorway with your back to the dog instead of keeping your eyes on him the entire time

3. Train Your Dog to Leave Things Around the House

Teaching your dog to “leave it” is another potentially life saving skill that you can teach right at home. It is still imperative that you train “leave it” in different contexts outside but indoors is a good start.  There are plenty of ways to make “leave it” challenging indoors.


  • If your dog is new to the “leave it” command you can hold him on a leash to make sure that your dog doesn’t get to the item you are teaching “leave it” with.
  • Start with a low value item like a boring toy or kibble.  Drop the item next to your dog and say “leave it.” Do NOT let your dog get the item even after they have successfully left it.  Your dog has to learn that “leave it” means they don’t ever get the item. See here for the difference between “wait” and “leave it.”
  • Your dog will likely spend time looking at the item even after you say “leave it.” As soon as your dog looks back towards you, reward them with a treat and praise. Repeat the process and treat your dog each time they look back to you after the “leave it” command.

Make It More Challenging:

  • Train your dog to “leave it” without a leash attached
  • Train your dog to “leave it” with high value food thrown towards them
  • Add distance by telling your dog to leave it while they are stranding further away from you
  • Spread treats out around your floor. Recall your dog from across the room but have them “leave it” by avoiding the treats.  Do not let your dog get the treats after they get to you (pick them up and use them later)
  • Tell your dog to “leave it” with a plate of human food on the floor
  • Walk around the room with your dog while walking by treats on the floor. Do not let your dog get the treats
  • Throw around your dog’s favorite toy and tell them to “leave it.” Do not play with it after they leave it (put it away for later)

labrador retriever wearing a pink gingham bandana

puppy wearing a pink bowtie

4. Train Your Dog to Hold Longer Stays While You Eat Dinner or Watch TV


  • Command your dog to “stay” on a mat or towel about 5 feet from where you are eating. Tether them to a leash if they can’t hold their stay for an entire meal
  • Always use a release word for your dog such as “ok,” “free,” or “release”

Make It More Challenging:

  • Train your dog to stay on their bed for the entirety of your human meal including cleanup and washing dishes
  • Train your dog to stay during a meal without a bed or mat
  • Train your dog to stay on their bed while you brush your teeth
  • Train your dog to stay on their bed while you cook dinner
  • Train your dog to stay and then walk out of the room for a few minutes

5. Practice Calling Your Dog From Other Rooms

Recalling your dog is always more difficult outdoors with distractions so recall while at home is not enough to develop good recall in your dog. However, mastering recall at home is a good start. Recalling your dog while at home and then rewarding him with lots of treats and attention is also a great way to strengthen your bond. See the “how to teach your dog to come when called” post for more information on recall training.


  • Recall your dog with “come and make sure to reward with lots of treats and love when it gets to you

Make It More Challenging:

  • Call your dog from another room or another part of your home. Give them a lot of attention and treats when your dog comes to you
  • Call your dog over while they are busy chewing on a delicious chew or bone

Keep on Training,
Your Pal Cal

Impulse Control Dog Training: Teach your dog to “Wait” and “Leave it”

Impulse Control Dog Training

Leave it and wait dog training is very important for a well trained dog with impulse control. Impulse dog training is important for safety and harmony. Teaching impulse control to a puppy is challenging!

One of Calvin’s most reliable commands is “Wait” – wait at doors, wait before entering the elevator, wait before eating, wait before taking a treat.  Building up the wait command takes a very long time.  It wasn’t until about a year that Calvin could reliably hold 10 slices of bacon on his face without moving a muscle.  We can now leave his food bowl in front of him, leave the room for 5 minutes and he will still be waiting patiently (ok…impatiently) when we get back.  This command is great for impulse control, and one of our most used commands.

Training your dog to Leave It vs Wait

Teaching a dog to leave it similar to teaching a dog to wait, but not exactly the same. There is a small but important distinction between the way we taught the “wait” and “leave it” commands. “Wait” means don’t touch it or move until told.  “Leave it” means don’t touch it or look at it. Ever. With “leave it” the dog learns that the command is final and they should just forget about whatever it is they are focused on.  With “wait” they will eventually be released and given an ok.  This is an important distinction to make because if your pup thinks that “leave it” means they will eventually be allowed to grab….a chicken bone off the ground….they will remain fixated on it and will be more likely to grab it when you turn around.

Start Small

We started teaching wait the day we brought Calvin home – he has always been expected to wait before eating his food.  This is a very common command, but needs to be generalized if you want your pup to be able to hold treats on their nose.  You’ll have to start with one second..and then build up to more time.  With the food bowl, we covered the bowl with our hands until he moved away from it.  If we released our hand and he would go for the food, we would cover the bowl again and say “wait”. It is common for the dog to paw your hands here and we had many scratches to prove it. We repeated this until he could wait a few seconds before digging in.

fullsizeoutput_263 (1)

Build Up

After a few weeks of waiting to dig into food, we started introducing “wait” with treats and waiting longer before starting to eat meals (Calvin was about 3 months old).  We started with just one treat on the ground in front of him (not on his paws yet!). We covered the treat with our hands and said “wait.”  Again, It is common for the dog to paw your hands here but don’t let them think that they can paw their way to what they want. Once the dog is done pawing and has calmed down, you can lift your hands and let them have the treat.  Once they learn to stop pawing at your hand as a first instinct, you can slowly lift your hands up a little bit off the ground and say “wait.” They will be able to see the treats but won’t be allowed to have them yet.  Let them have the treat with an “ok” and repeat the process – as the dog gets more comfortable you can lift your hand up higher above the treats.  Eventually you will be able to use the word “wait” and “ok” as the command and release while the treats aren’t covered by your hands.  For the first few months, you will have to be ready to cover up the food or treats to reinforce that “wait” means no yummies until told.  Another tip is to wait until the dog looks at you to release them – that way you know your dog is looking to you for direction instead of just focusing on the treat.  Once the dog understands the general concept, don’t let them have the treat until they check in with you and make eye contact.

Next up: when you dog has mastered waiting while the treat is in front of them, you can try putting the treat on their paws.  Be prepared to swoop in and cover the treat if they try to go for it.  Repeat the process on their nose or any other place you want to have them hold a treat.  If the treat drops on the ground, grab it before they can so they do not think that they can break the “wait.”  Eventually, you will be able to command your dog to wait no matter how close the food is to their face.  This process takes time to master so be patient.


dog sitting with a pile of cheeseburgers from inn and out

Have a release word for your dog

We use the word “ok” as the release word.  Other words we’ve heard used are “release”, “free”, “go.” To make sure your dog understands the release word and isn’t just responding to random words, you can test out words and make sure your pup only digs in when they hear the “ok.” We like to say a string of words that are similar to “ok” so that Calvin knows that the only word that releases him is “ok,” no matter how similar other words may sound.

Reward your dog during training sessions

Luckily, “wait” is easy to reward.  The reward is being released! For “leave it”, we personally do not use rewards.  We consider “leave it” to be a non-negotiable command (our other non-negotiables are loose leash walking and “stay”).  Our decision not to use treats for “leave it” is a personal choice that works best for Calvin.  Sometimes, Calvin is too clever for his own good – “leave it” for a treat is cool most of the time, but when there’s a yummy bird, or something more exciting than a treat, he prefers the distraction to the treat. When we realized this, we turned “leave it” into a non-negotiable command and used the gentle leader to pull his head away from the distraction (and towards us) when he was too fixated on something.  Over time, “leave it” came to mean, “look at me. No ifs or buts.” This took time but we have found him to be a lot more consistent in the long run than when we used treats.

Patience is a virtue,
-Your Pal Cal