How to Play Red Light Green Light

Impulse control games can be fun for your kids to play with the dog.   But they can also be great educational life skills for you dog.   Red Light / Green Light is one that will help teach your dog a bit of impulse control by allowing him to get all excited and playful and then stop instantly when told.

It's easy and it's fun for everyone to play.

Your dog will need to know the basic skills Sit, Down, and Come before you play the game.  They should have a pretty good built in stay.   They should also be familiar with Okay! as a release cue.   So if necessary, teach those skills first.   Remember:  all learning is good for your dog so take the time necessary to build the foundation.

Play in large enclosed (fenced) area that is safe from hazards that your kids or dogs might fall  over or get the dog's leash caught on.  The leash will be used initially to help teach your dog the game.  The leash can be eliminated in a few weeks.

Engage your dog in a fun game of chase, fetch, or with a toy tug.

Once the dog is engaged and excited, stop suddenly and issue a command like "Sit"

  • If they sit, quickly say Okay! start playing again with the toy or the game of chase

  • If they don't sit on command, use your leash to prevent the escape and them help them sit

Play for several intervals and take a break.

Over the course of the next few days play the game and increase the time the dog has to hold his command (stay) before you release and play again.

Play with enthusiasm, but become calm and still when you ask the dog to sit for the first few days.   Then up the ante by getting excited or showing the toy again before you release him to play with you.

Dogs love fun and challenges!  You do too -- right?  Get out and play with the dog.

Once he knows the game, you can apply this quick issue of a command in moments when your dog may be getting to excited in the house, when the kids friends come over, or something unusual distracts him.

Make up your own impulse control games!  Get out and have fun with the dog.