The Best Way to Teach Your Dog to Wait

Dog facing a closed door

The "wait" order instructs dogs to concentrate on you, stay there, and not move until you release them. This command is particularly useful for keeping your dog from running out the door or from his kennel.

Fortunately, teaching your dog to wait does not require any special equipment. Instead of rewarding your dog with food, you may just educate him that obeying the order implies he is permitted to do specific activities. While learning a new command might be difficult, this one is simple and beneficial in a variety of circumstances.

Introduce the Command

It is not necessary to do separate training sessions to teach your dog to wait. Use the "wait" command every time you let the dog outdoors or out of the kennel to practice. Your dog should never be permitted to sprint outside or spring out of its box once you've started working on "wait."

Begin by saying "wait" when your dog is ready to explore the yard or leave the cage. Then slowly open the door and observe whether the dog leaps forward to escape. If this is the case, close the door fast. Next, repeat the instruction with your dog. If your dog surges forward to get out, open the door slightly each time you give the order and close it swiftly.

Reward Good Behavior

Any hesitancy should be rewarded in the early phases of training. If your dog hesitates after receiving the "wait" order, praise them and open the door. Use a like "free" or "go ahead" when you open the door to let them know it's OK to walk forward.

Make your dog wait a few additional seconds before releasing it after it has learned to properly "wait" when you give the order. You can start opening the door a little wider once your pet has held the "wait" command for many seconds or longer. However, if your dog starts to flee or rush outside again, you should be prepared to immediately lock the door.

Practice Patience

After a few days of learning "wait," your dog should be able to stay still with the door wide open until you say "free" or "go ahead" to release him. Remember to do this on a regular basis and to reward your dog for good behavior.

Wait for Other Things

You may also educate your dog to wait in other situations, such as when it's time to eat. Self-control might be tough for dogs to learn, but you can use a food dish filled with goodies, similar to the door exercise. Simply drop the food bowl on the floor and bring it up to your knee without the dog approaching. If your dog moves, bring the bowl back to you. If you reach your knees and your dog complies, give him with a goodie. Rep this cycle until you understand the command "wait."

You may also use "wait" before going outdoors for a leash stroll. You may also want your dog to wait at the top of the stairs while you go to the basement or before getting out of the car. This command should be used whenever it is in your dog's best interest—safety and self-discipline, for example.

Problems and Proofing Behavior

As with any training command, be sure to use "wait" regularly to reinforce the lesson throughout your dog's life. Soon enough, it will likely become second nature to both of you.

Return at the beginning if your dog begins to ignore the order. Do a few training sessions at the front entrance to assist them relearn the appropriate behavior. Because it's only a refresher course, it shouldn't take as long this time.

You may even take this command a step further by adding a trick. Many dog owners, for example, teach their dogs not to touch a ball or favorite toy until they are told to. Sit your dog down, then carefully place the toy in front of them while saying "wait" and walking back. If the dog takes up the toy, stop it from approaching it and restore it to its original place.

Your dog should only touch the toy with your consent if you are patient and consistent. This method may also be used to teach a dog to keep a reward on its nose or perform other enjoyable self-control feats.