Dogs live in the ‘now’ so the whole concept of waiting can be hard for us to grasp. I'll explain how to teach your dog to wait but only if you promise promise promise to be a patient teacher.
OK. First, you have to understand the difference between "wait" and "stay". Wait means "Freeze! don't move a muscle til I say so" and stay means "Stay right where you are while I leave your side and go somewhere else". A lot of dogs have trouble with stay because we really like to be close to our humans. Wait isn't so bad though.
The fastest/easiest way to introduce “wait” is by the tone of your voice. Second to rewards (especially cookies!), tone of voice is one of the best tools in dog training. It works like this: your voice is like a traffic light. Low, serious voices are red lights. They tell your dog to stop. High-pitched, happy voices are green lights. They say all systems go.
So imagine you want your dog to come to a stop before crossing the street. When you get to the curb, say “Wait” in a serious tone. Your dog will probably pause and look up at you to figure out what the problem is. You've given him a red light. As soon as he pauses, bring on the happy voice to let him know that standing still is a go. Make it a really happy green light! As long as he's standing still, he gets the happy voice. If he starts to move forward again, give him the red light by saying “NO. WAIT.” in a more serious tone. Repeat the process in very small doses til he catches on.
Once your dog's mastered standing still for a second or two, give an enthusiastic "Okay!" (green light!) as you take a step forward. This tells your dog its OK to move again. "Wait” should always be followed by a release like “Okay", signalling it's OK to proceed. Again, repeat the process in very small doses til he catches on. Once he's grasped the concept, introduce "wait" in other situations (mealtimes, leaving the house, getting out of the car)
Once your dog understands "wait", the cue can be used in a million and one different ways.
- red light/green light
- to be patient
- teach in baby steps
- practice practice practice