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13 Best Self-Control Games For Dogs (Updated 2024 Guide)

Dog Impulse Control Games

You want your pooch to learn self-control.

But most dog training looks so boring. Or too difficult. 

So why not make things fun and easier? 

Well, perfect timing.

I prepared the finest ideas for you and Fido.

So get ready…

Your dog’s about to play the best self-control games.

Keep reading to find out: 

  • 1 helpful impulse control game for anxious dogs.
  • 3 easy steps to make Fido relax during their walks.
  • 13 best self-control games for dogs (#7 and #13 are fun).
  • And many, many more…

13 best self-control games for dogs

#1: Say “please”

When you work hard for something… 

It makes you value your achievement even more. 

Now, that’s something your furry friend needs to learn. 

And you can teach that to Fido with a game called: learn to earn. Or it’s also known as “Say please.” 

So here’s how you can do it:

Whenever your pup wants to do something…

They need to sit first. 

Here’s an example. Let’s say Fido’s asking for a toy. 

If that happens, some dogs might bark at you demandingly. As if saying: 

“Hooman, let’s play right now.” Then your dog jumps around excitedly

So, to teach your pup some self-control… 

Don’t give what your dog wants

Instead, wait for Fido to sit down. And when they do, praise them for it. 

After that, give your furry pal the toy that they want. 

Moreover, you can apply this to anything your pooch does. 

Say your dog wants to go outside. In that case, wait until they sit first. 

With this, your hyperactive dog will learn how to calm down. 

And this becomes Fido’s way of saying: 

“Look, I’m sitting down. So can we play now? Pwease?”  

Note: You can use your dog’s other gestures too. So it doesn’t always have to be “sit first.” After all, some pups might prefer laying down instead. 

Now, just repeat this game until your pup masters the good habit. 

#2: Teach your pooch to drop it

If your dog loves picking up things they’re not supposed to…

This next game will stop them. 

First, you need to teach Fido the cue: “Drop it.” 

To do that, just follow this easy 4-step guide:

Step 1: Find something that your pooch would like 

So, it could be any kind of toy.

Just ensure that it would get your dog’s interest. 

And before you go to Fido…

Prepare some treats to use in the next steps.

Step 2: Go to your pup and show them the item 

Now, wait until your pooch picks up the new toy. 

Once your dog grabs the stuff…

Get the treats that you prepared. Then place those goodies on the side of the floor.

With that, Fido will leave the toy so they can eat. 

And while your pup munches on the treats… 

Take the toy that your dog just dropped.

Step 3: Give the new item back once your dog’s done eating 

This trains your pup to get excited when they see you

And if you keep this up…

Fido will quickly drop what’s in their mouth when you enter the room.

Step 4: Show your hand and tell your dog to “drop it”

Once your furry pal masters steps 1 to 3… 

You can now teach them the command. To do that, just offer your hand to Fido. And then say: “Drop it.” 

Now, your dog will let go of whatever’s in their mouth. 

Note: Do this game until your furry pal learns to drop things instantly.

That aside, this fun play is also great for pups with unwanted habits like:

Read next: 9 Reasons Why Your Dog Is Suddenly Being Destructive + Tips

#3: Leave it

Some Fidos can be too impulsive. 

So let’s fix that habit with a game called: leave it. 

Now, there are many ways to play this training. 

But here’s a simple method instead: 

Step 1: Put Fido on a leash and prepare some treats

Then, you have to place the yummy snack far from your pooch. 

With this, their nose can still pick up the enticing scent.

So expect your furry pal to start pulling the leash. 

Step 2: Hold your dog back and tell them to “leave it” 

Wait until Fido stops pulling on the leash.

Once they start calming down…

You can give your pup another treat. But it’s not the one that you placed far away. 

Now, just repeat this as long as needed.

And once your dog doesn’t run after the treat anymore…

Step 3: Make it more challenging 

This time, take Fido closer to the snack you set on the floor.

If your pooch starts getting excited, wait until they calm down.

And if they stay relaxed the whole time… 

You should reward Fido for their self-control. 

Tip: You can try this with a person too. Instead of a treat, hold your dog back if they want to jump on someone. When Fido behaves, give them a reward.

This is helpful if your furry pal gets too friendly with other people

#4: Relax on your mat

Do you often have guests in your home? 

This game will teach Fido to behave around visitors.

First, prepare a mat and place it on the floor. You could also use a blanket.

Now, let your dog take a look at it. If Fido shows any interest in the mat, give them a treat.

This would make your pooch think: 

“Wow, this magic carpet helps me earn treats. I’ll stay on it then.” 

That aside, you can make things more challenging too. 

For example, move the mat to another room. 

Then tell your pup: “Go to your blanket.” 

Or you can also use other signals like: “Relax on your mat.” 

If your dog follows your command, give them a treat again. 

And just keep this up until you’re happy with the results.

#5: Wait for your food

Most dogs seem like they only care about food

Well, you can use that idea to your advantage. 

And here’s how to do it:

Hold your dog’s food bowl up 

Hold Your Dog's Food Bowl Up

Ensure that they can still see what’s in your hand. 

Now, slowly lower their food while saying: “Wait for it.” 

And if Fido stays still, give them a small treat. That shows you’re rewarding their patience. 

But don’t give them their full meal yet. 

If your dog moves from their spot, raise the food bowl higher

This shows your pup that they need to stay patient.

Now, you have to repeat this until Fido’s meal reaches the floor. And that would only happen if they stay calm. 

But once you reach that point of success…

Don’t forget to praise your pooch. And give them a treat too. 

Also, you can level up this game by doing the following tips:

  • Make your dog wait longer.
  • Try using distractions like toys.

Check out also: Why Do Dogs Go Crazy For Food? 5 Reasons + Tips

#6: Tug of war

Many Fidos love tug-of-war. And you can use that to train your dog.

So let’s begin: 

First, grab your dog’s rope to play tug-of-war. 

But right as you start the game, tell Fido to drop the toy. It’s like what I told you in point #2.

And when your pup obeys the command…

You can restart the tug-of-war. 

Now, do this 5 to 10 times first. After that, start from the top again. 

But once Fido drops the toy this time… 

Tell them to sit down or relax on their mat. Like what you read in point #4.

If your dog obeys, you can continue playing the game. 

This teaches Fido that they need to be patient. Or else, you won’t play with them. 

And with this… 

Your pup learns 3 self-control commands all at the same time. 

#7: SMART x 50

SMART stands for: 

See, Mark, And, Reward, Training. 

Now let me tell you what they mean. 

First, you’ll see what your dog does for a day. 

If they do something good, you’ll mark it by praising your pup. 

And you should use keywords or phrases like:

  • Yes.
  • Great job.
  • Good dog.

Then you reward Fido with a treat. That’s what this training is all about. 

Sounds smart, right?

But wait. What about the number? 

Well, it means you’ll give Fido 50 treats per day. 

So when the snacks run out… 

That means the game’s over. 

“Wait, isn’t 50 treats too much?” 

I get why you’re worried. So here’s a feeding rule from the AKC

Treats should only take 10% off Fido’s daily calorie needs

To help you calculate this, follow my instructions.

First, count the calories on your dog’s treat pack. Next, use this easy table:

Breed sizeAverage weightAmount of calories per treat
Toy breeds3 to 6 lbs (1.3 to 2.7 kg)13.9 to 23.3 calories
Small dogs10 to 20 lbs (4.5 to 9 kg)34.2 to 57.6 calories
Medium dogs30 to 50 lbs (13 to 22 kg)78.1 to 114.5 calories
Large/Giant dogs60 lbs to 100 lbs (27 to 45 kg)131.3 to 192.6 calories

Note: If you’re still worried, you can just use your dog’s regular kibbles. Count 50 pieces of that to use as rewards for your pooch. 

Now that’s all cleared up, you can keep doing the game.

Tip: Play SMART x 50 for about a week. Slowly, you’ll notice Fido behaving even better. 

And do you know the best part? 

You won’t have to teach them any commands. Instead, your pup will keep showing their nice manners. 

That way, they know you’ll reward them for being a good doggo.

#8: Calm walks 

Does Fido love walking? 

If yes, then here’s an easy game to play. 

When you take them outside… 

Keep your walking pace slow and steady. With that, most pups would get impatient. 

But just let them whine

And if Fido starts pulling the leash, stop walking too. 

This teaches them that they won’t get anywhere. Especially if they’re impatient.

So once they calm down…

Just continue your walk. And repeat the steps as much as needed.

#9: Grandma’s law (the Premack Principle)

“You can go outside. But only if you finish your meal.” 

If your dog could understand human language

They’d think that sounds like a bargain. 

And that’s what this game’s all about. You just have to give Fido a deal they have to follow. 

For example, if your dog keeps digging at your doorstep… 

Wait until they calm down first. 

Once they stay chill, open the way for them. And let Fido play outside.

Now, you can do this to any unwanted habits of your pup. 

It simply teaches your dog that they can get what they want. But only if they show some self-control first.

That’s how the Premack Principle works.

And if you wanna learn more about this game… 

See this helpful trainer’s video: 

#10: Red light, green light

Let’s make this simple. 

Red light means: stop. While the green one stands for: go

You know, just like how traffic works. 

So how do you apply this to your dog? Well, the best time to do it is during walks. 

For example, if Fido starts chasing something, like cats or cars… 

That’s your red light, and you should stop walking. 

Then, just wait until your pooch calms down. 

Tip: Let your dog rest for 5 to 10 minutes. That gives them time to practice self-control. 

And it also makes Fido think: 

“Oh, I see. I need to chill for now. Otherwise, I’ll be stuck here.” 

After that, go for the green light. 

That means you can continue your walk. 

And this works great for dogs who love chasing things.

Read next: 7 Real Reasons Why Dogs Chase Cars + How To Stop It 

#11: It’s Yer Choice (IYC)

A dog expert shares a simple game for Fido: 

You just have to let your dog pick a choice. 

If they do the right thing, then they’ll get rewarded. 

But if they make a bad decision…

Then your pooch should face the consequences. 

And it isn’t a punishment. Or a way to force your dog. You also don’t have to scold them for this method to work. 

Instead, here’s an example.

Let’s say your pooch plays too rough. In that case, you stop playing with them. 

Now, this gives Fido a choice: 

It’s either they start being gentle or remain the same. 

So if your pup keeps playing rough, then you won’t join them. And to dogs, that’s boring.

But if your furry pal picks the good option…

Then you can continue the game with your pooch.

See? This teaches Fido to make the right choice. Even without telling them any commands. And you don’t have to punish them either.

That’s how this game helps you build trust between you and your pooch.

#12: Look at that

Distraction works like a charm. Especially for nervous dogs

That said, a report states that 70% of Fidos show signs of anxiety, like: 

So to help your furry friend relax…

Just point at something and say:

“Look at that!” 

Then wait for your pooch to do what you told them to. 

This trains Fido to focus on something else. Instead of letting anxiety take over them. 

Tip: It works better if you point at interesting items. Or anything that might be new for your pooch. You can also direct their attention to someone else. Like other dogs and family members.

#13: Hide and seek

Quick, find a place to hide. 

“Wait, why?” 

Well, the next game is: hide and seek. And you can even play this at home. 

Once you find a spot to hide in, call your dog’s name. 

Usually, it won’t take long for them to find you. 

After all, research says that Fidos have a great sense of smell

So once your dog finds you, you reset the game. 

But this time, tell your pooch to wait. Or you can also use keywords like stay. 

If your pup listens, go to another spot and hide again. 

Now, if Fido starts looking for you right away… 

Come out and tell them to stay where they are. After that, go back to your hiding place and wait for a minute or 2. 

If your dog didn’t follow you at all… 

That’s the time you call their name. You can also use release cues such as: 

  • Go.
  • Okay.
  • I’m ready.
  • Come find me.

And if Fido keeps obeying you, reward them with a treat.

This teaches them patience. Even if you’re in another room or away from your dog.