Wait Please

“WAIT”: A command that means your dog’s permission is denied for the moment.

Examples of how and where to use “wait”:

* Before your dog eats.
* Before going through doorways leading outside.
* Getting in & out of cars.


“Wait” ~ The Marshmallow Test – This will show the importance of teaching your dog delayed gratification by teaching ‘wait’ with food.

Squat down next to your dog with a treat in one hand. Give the command “Buddy, wait”. When your dog goes for it you will say: “ah, ah” or “no” and simultaneously close your hand. You will then re-open your hand and repeat the command, “wait”.

The sequence of steps are: when your hand is open and the treat is in it, you give the command “wait”. When your dog tries to go for the treat, you will give a “ah, ah” and close your hand. What you are waiting for is your dog to wait for the treat. In the beginning, only expect your dog to wait 2-3 seconds. This is all new & hard. As soon as he waits, praise him first & then release him with “o.k”… Over time you will increase the amount of time your dog can wait.

*This is the first time you will be using a “release word”. A release word gives your dog permission to leave the command you have given. Examples are: “ok”, “free”, “go”.


Continue with step 1 until your dog shows you that he is grasping the idea. Then move to this step and place the food on the floor. You may want to place a lead on your dog for this step. Now you will follow the same theory as above; but this time you will cover the treat with your hand when your dog goes for it rather than close your hand with the treat in it. Wait until “Buddy” waits, praise him, and release him!


Teaching “wait” at doorways. It is important to have your dog’s lead on for this step. Start this exercise in “easy” doorways such as a hallway archway or a bedroom doorway – any doorway that is not “ tempting“ for your dog to run through. Stand on the same side of the doorway and give the command “Buddy, wait”. As you say this you are going to use a new hand signal! Swing your arm in front of your dog like a clock pendulum. Your dog may either stand there, try to walk forward or turn around and walk back into the room. Two out of three of these reactions are acceptable. Can you guess which ones? Since “wait” means that permission is temporarily denied, he can stand in place and not go forward  AND he may turn around and walk back into the room. What he can NOT do is walk forward. He is denied permission to move forward. Think of it as an imaginary line that he cannot cross until you give him the release word.

If your dog walks forward, you are going to take his lead and give him a quiet yet effective verbal reprimand “ah, ah” while popping back on the lead horizontally; followed by the instruction, “wait”. As soon as your dog shows signs of “waiting”, praise him, give him a cookie and then release him.

You should gradually move from his side @ the doorway to a foot or so in front of him on the other side if the doorway & ultimately to the end of the leash. While he’s “waiting” give a treat!

With each success he has at these “neutral” doorways, move to more and more difficult ones. Save the doorway that he goes outside through for last. That will be hard because he associated that one with walks and playtime and will be filled with excitement to get out.

Another very effective way to prevent your dog from walking forward through a doorway is to use your body and block him in place of using a “pop” on his collar. If you chose to use these “body blocks”, make sure you are still holding onto the lead just in case “Buddy” walks out.

  • Praise him first and then release him.
  • Do not confuse this command with stay.
  • Set your dog up for success – not failure. That means, make it easy for him in the beginning and slowly increase the difficulty.
  • Only allow your dog out of doorways leading outside that you will be taking him out of.

Ie: I only take my dogs out the basement door. They are never taken out of the front door because I don’t want them knowing that is a way out.