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Wait Command

WAIT is a very useful command because it can be introduced to dogs of all ages, including puppies as early as 9 to 10 weeks of age, it can be repeated for emphasis, and it’s not a command that’s ever used in obedience. Also, because your dog isn‘t required to hold a particular position, as he is with the “Stay” command, you won’t run the risk of confusing him. Here’s how to get started with your RR.

First, contain your RR somewhere, and open your front door. Next, fetch your dog and outfit him with a collar (preferably a choke chain for a mature dog, or a martingale-type collar or soft choke for a puppy), and 6-foot leash. Now, head toward your open front door and when you reach it, tell your dog WAIT! Proceed to step forward through the door, and if your dog ad- vances to go with you, pull back slightly on the leash (if you were to pull up you’d be asking him to sit), and firmly say “I said WAIT.” This works almost instantly. Rarely do you have to repeat it a third time. But if you do, be even more emphatic when you say it.

After the command is given, step over the threshold and immediately turn to face your dog. Note: Remember to keep the leash completely slack; you’ll confuse your dog if you tighten it. In the beginning, you should wait outside the door for about 30 seconds, after which you have two choices:

(1) You can return to your dog’s side and praise him for a job well done; or (2) you can pick a “cue” word that’ll tell your dog when (and only when) he’s allowed to cross this threshold. Pick a word that the entire family will use, and use it every time your dog is taken through the door.

Note: Consistency is key to your success— everyone must use the same cue-word. I’ve had clients use the word “green,” and I’ve had clients use the word “okay.” The choice is yours, just make sure everyone uses the same word.

Y ou should  practice this exercise about three times per day, at varying times, and at any door that could lead your RR into “harm’s way” (usually the front door). Be sure to have other adult household members try this, too. Remember, you want your RR to respond to all family members. As you experience more reli- ability from your RR you can then allow the younger members of your family (but not too young, please) to try this.

Note: WAIT! simply means “do not go for- ward.” Your dog isn’t required to sit or lie down when this command is given—he simply can’t cross the threshold until he hears your “cue,” or release, word.

You should intermix calling your dog through the door to you and going back to him to make sure he fully understands what responsibility goes with this command.
Also, practice this command with your dog facing into your house from the back yard. This way he’ll learn not to charge into the house. You can also use this command at the threshold of a particular room where your dog isn’t al- lowed. However, remember never to break your own rule and call him into that room! If you have stairs, you can prevent your dog from knocking someone down them by using this command every time someone goes down the stairs.
After one week of testing this command at your front door, you can extend the time (to one minute at the end of this week) and distance (to approximately 15 feet) from where you told your dog to wait. Then about midweek, step behind a tree or around the side of your house so you’re out of sight.
Note:Whenyoufirststartpracticingtheout- of-sight WAIT!, only stay about 30 seconds be- fore you reappear to either call him or go back to your dog. You can increase the time as he gets more reliable.
You can also use WAIT! when you take your dog in the car with you. As you open the car door, tell him to WAIT! (you probably no longer need to give the leash a slight tug), and stand there for a few seconds. Then tell him “OK” (or whatever release word you’ve chosen) followed by “get in” or “kennel up.” (Again, you can use whatever words you like, just be consistent.) Use the same technique when you reach your destination. Before you open the car door, tell your dog to WAIT! Open the door, and if he tries to jump out, be pre- pared to forcefully shove him back into the car, saying “I said WAIT!” You should then make him wait for 10 to 20 seconds before giving him your release word.

The uses for this command are endless. Just think how nice it would be to enter your home with an arm full of groceries without worrying that they’ll end up all over the floor! With each new situation where you don’t wantyourdogtoadvanceforwarduntilyou release him, you should slowly increase the responsible time and distance. If you’re dili- gent, it really won’t be long before you can start to add distractions to test your dog’s reliability. Prearrange with a friend to walk past your open door with their dog. Start by having yours on a 15-foot line. Again, tell him to WAIT! at the door. Go out of his sight, but not so far that you can’t get back to him quickly if you need to make a correction. Now have your friend walk by. If your dog steps (or runs!) over the threshold without having been released by you, you need to fly to him and practically “throw” him back across the threshold as you roar “I said WAIT!” You’ll be surprised at how effective this “surprise at- tack” is at ensuring your dog’s reliability.

After you’ve accomplished this a few dif- ferent times with different distractions, it won’t be long before you can remove the leash to test your RR’s reliability to “wait” when and where he’s told to—until he’s been released.
It’s absolutely gratifying to see pups as young as 10 weeks waiting at an open door until they’re told it’s OK to come through, or until their person returns to them. In a short period of time you can comfortably open your front door as you tell your dog to “WAIT!” while you go to the mailbox or chat with a neighbor. And all the time you’ll be comfortable knowing that because you took the time to teach your dog that he can’t leave your house without your approval, he’ll be safely waiting in your doorway.

One very important thing to remember when teaching this, or any other command: Al- ways remember to praise your dog for the work he’s doing and for his reliability in anything you’ve taught him. Praise is the only paycheck your dog gets for a job well done, so don’t forget to use it a lot.
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