Teaching Your Dog to Wait


This skill is very valuable and has many real-life applications. You can ask your dog to “Wait:”

  • Before exiting any doorway,
  • Before exiting a vehicle so you may harness & leash them,
  • Before a meal is placed for them,
  • While walking down the stairs on leash,
  • While you pick up their poo,
  • and so much more!

Knowing the cue of "Wait" teaches your dog to control his or her own body from moving forward until you say the release cue, “OK.”. It’s a great impulse control exercise!

You are asking your pup to hold themselves back momentarily in whatever position they are already in when asked. Whether they are Standing, Sitting,  in a Down or even mid-stride while walking. There is no need to ask for a Sit, Down, etc. , just, "Wait."

Just say your dog’s name then “Wait.” In the video, you will see that the reward is access to something; walking through a threshold or doorway or getting their food placed down to eat.


  • Work on this separately from your dog's “Stay” skill, to prevent confusion.
  • Use the Release Cue, "OK" when releasing from a Wait.
  • Use the Release Cue, "All done" when releasing from a Stay.
    • For practicing a Stay with distance from your dog, always return to your dog to release them.
    • Otherwise, your dog will anticipate you are going to release them from a distance and it will be more difficult for your dog to settle into a relaxed, prolonged Stay. Do not release them at a distance. 
    • Releasing your dog at a distance, encourages excited anticipation of being released and makes the Stay harder for them.

The Differences Between a Wait and a Stay

This is the act of your dog momentarily holding their body in place in whatever position they are when asked without you having to ask them for any other body position first.

It is often requested when your dog is walking forward, but can also be used when they are already standing or even sitting. However you do not ask them for any behavior except, “Wait.” This is why it is an excellent way to practice impulse control.


This is the act of your dog holding their body in position after you have asked them to place their body into either a Sit, Down or Stand position. 

It is often requested when your dog is walking forward, but can also be used when they are already standing or even sitting. You do ask them for a Sit, Down or Stand first then cue, “Stay.” This is also an excellent way to practice impulse control, however it is somewhat easier for your dog as they have placed their body into a requested position (often a more relaxed position) and have been taught that the next cue of, “Stay,” means they need to hold their body into this position for a prolonged period of time until released.

Teach the Wait for a Food Bowl or Food Toy first. This is usually slightly easier for your dog to learn in the more controlled environment of their eating space and they will then have an understanding of the concept of Wait that they can more easily be applied to the Wait at the Door exercise.

Wait - for Food Bowl Placement

Teach this outside of your dog’s feeding time. This will make it easier for your dog to control themselves and less frustrating for you you, the trainer.


Mix a handful of tiny pieces of treats in with your dog’s kibble to use as the rewards. The kibble is only in the bowl to create a similar scenario to the real life one of feeding time. The treat rewards will be extra rewarding for your dog and further incentive to play along to get the treats.

Wait - to Exit a Door

Pro Tips

  • For safety and to reduce the possibility of escape, attach a lead or long line (preferred) to your dog before beginning this exercise. 
  • Allow the lead to drag on the floor during the exercise. 
  • It is only there as a safety measure in case your dog has difficulty with this, escapes through the door and attempts to run off. 
    • The lead dragging on the floor/ground allows you a way to capture your dog by stepping on the lead. 
  • If this does occur, slow down with the difficulty level as escapes like these are a sign to you, the trainer, that your dog needs to learn the skill more slowly in this very exciting space.


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