My Dog & I: Wait!

This my favorite and most useful command after “come”…  Because we humans need time to process our thoughts before action (some longer than others), it is essential to be able to ask your flying, supercharged or even simply clumsy dog partner to pause for a moment while we put our brains in gear..

I have an armful of groceries, coming into the house. I am about to go out of the front door and need to put on my dog’s leash (maybe 5 dogs’ leashes) I am about to open my back door and let in six muddy dogs but I must wipe their paws first…All of these scenarios require that everyone must STOP for a few moments while I organize the chaos!

Crossing the road, opening gates, getting out of the car, this is an essential operation to be able to perform. To start to teach this skill you will need a good leash and collar and some quiet time. Choose a nice level piece of ground and begin walking with your dog on your left side. Don’t worry about a perfect “heel” yet. After a few steps you will slowly squeeze your leash with your left hand and stop your feet. At the same time you will say S_L_O_W_L_Y, “wait”.Do not snap or shout this word as it is not an admonishment. Your dog will not understand immediately that you want him to stop but simply stand still for a moment or two and then start walking again, with a bright “Let’s Go!”.Now all you have to do is repeat this exercise 10 times, twice a day for a week…In the back yard, on the road, in the park, in your kitchen, in Lowes, on the High Street!! As your dog learns to pause at the sound of your command, you will gradually stop squeezing your hand on the leash and wait for him to pause on his own…GREAT!!!! Now you are ready to use your command going through your doors and you may even progress to trying the exercise with no leash just to see if he makes the association. Do not expect miracles but allow your dog the chance to show you how clever he is!! You can also use your lower body to BLOCK his forward momentum while saying the word “WAIT” Remember, it’s a SLOW word!

The last part of this exercise will be in the car. You will NOT allow your dog to leave the vehicle until he has “WAITed” until you are ready. Start by opening the car door slowly and be ready to block his forward momentum while you are using your “wait” word. Do not release him until he has calmed down and then use your release word or simply clip his leash on and ask him to “let’s go” with you. This will depend on where you are taking him out of the car but I never like to simply allow everyone to pile out crazily, even if w are at the park!! If your dog will wait nicely for your next command your life will be infinitely easier and your dog will be much more pleasant to take around and so much safer.

Let’s hear back from all you home based dog trainers as to how this is working…and Remember to be consistent!! If you allow your dog to sometimes charge ahead, he will never understand that the command means ALWAYS! So much fun to put these simple commands in place and very rewarding to be able to manage your little (or not so little ) pack with less stress.

Call with questions about technique or clarification about English Spelling!!

– Janine Lazarus. HashtagWV, January 2017. Learn more about Janine at

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