A Lesson in Impulse Control: Teaching Your Dog to Wait for Meals

September 30, 2023

One great way to practice impulse control is to teach your dog to wait for meals. Read on to find out how to teach this valuable skill.

Feeding time is undoubtedly one of the most exciting moments for your four-legged friend. The mere sound of kibble hitting the bowl can turn even the calmest dog into a bundle of excitement. However, teaching your dog to wait for his food is not just a matter of good manners; it’s also an essential part of training that can enhance your dog’s discipline and self-control. In this blog post, we’ll explore the importance of teaching your dog to wait for his food and provide some valuable tips to make mealtime a more controlled and enjoyable experience for you and your furry companion.


Why Should You Teach Your Dog to Wait for His Meals?


  • Safety: A dog that rushes to his food bowl without hesitation can easily knock over the bowl or your hand, leading to spills and potential injuries. Teaching your dog to wait prevents accidents during mealtime.
  • Behavioral Training: Teaching your dog to wait is an excellent way to reinforce basic obedience behaviors like “sit.” It helps improve your dog’s overall behavior and responsiveness to your cues.
  • Impulse Control: Learning to wait for his food teaches your dog patience and impulse control. These skills can be useful in various situations, from waiting at the door before going outside to calmly greeting guests.


Now, let’s dive into the steps to teach your dog to wait for his food:



Step 1: Set the Scene


Before you start, ensure you have a quiet and controlled environment for training. Eliminate distractions so your dog can focus on the task at hand. Have your dog’s food prepared and ready to go.


Step 2: The Waiting Game


  • Hold your dog’s bowl filled with food in your hand.
  • Show the bowl to your dog while cueing “sit.”
  • Once your dog sits, gradually lower the bowl to the ground. If your dog gets up, raise the bowl back up.
  • You might not get the food bowl all the way to the floor right away, which is just fine!  If you can get the bowl halfway to the floor without your dog getting up, go ahead and release him to eat.
  • As your dog does well with holding the sit, work toward putting the food bowl all the way on the ground.
  • If at any time your dog gets up, simply raise the bowl.
  • Once the bowl is on the ground, give your dog a release cue like “okay” or “break.”

Step 3: Practice and Consistency


Consistency is key to success. Practice this routine during every mealtime, gradually increasing the duration of the wait before allowing your dog to eat. Be patient and encouraging throughout the process.



Step 4: Reward and Praise


Whenever your dog successfully waits for his food, reward him by releasing him to eat. Positive reinforcement helps reinforce the desired behavior.


Step 5: Troubleshooting: My Dog Won’t Wait for Meals


If your dog struggles with waiting, here are some common issues and solutions:


  • Impatience: If your dog gets too excited and impatient, go back to practicing basic commands like “sit” to reinforce self-control.
  • Success: Release your dog to the bowl earlier if he’s having trouble.  Build on success.
  • Inconsistency: Ensure that everyone in your household follows the same rules and cues to prevent confusion for your dog.


During Basic Manners classes at Golden Paws, we work on many forms of impulse control. Join us to teach your pup to remain calm and composed!


Teaching your dog to wait for his food is a valuable training exercise that enhances his discipline and self-control. It’s a rewarding experience for you and your furry companion, as it strengthens your bond and makes mealtime more enjoyable and controlled. With patience, consistency, and positive reinforcement, you can successfully teach your dog this essential skill that will benefit him in various aspects of his life. So, start practicing today, and watch your dog become a well-mannered and patient pup!


Looking for a more well-behaved dog?

If you’re seeking improved behavior from your dog, we’re here to help! Our comprehensive training programs are designed to enhance your dog’s behavior and manners. With our expert trainers, proven positive reinforcement methods, and small class sizes, you’ll see positive changes in your dog’s behavior in no time. Get started on the path to a better-behaved dog today! We can’t wait to see you in class!


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