Dogs don’t naturally have city-smarts, so crossing a street is just crossing a street. Waiting for a traffic signal or an “okay!” is not intuitive for them. It is just so exciting to get to the other side! Unfortunately, it can be dangerous for us, the dog, and other people on the road. The wait cue teaches your dog to pause or stop at the curb until you give the all clear.

Ideas for cues: “wait”, “one sec”, “hold”, “pause”

Start indoors at home with your dog off-leash:

  • Take a few steps forward with your dog
  • Say the cue “wait” ​
  • Then bring a treat down right in front of their nose and let them have it
  • Pause for a second, say “okay” or “let’s go” or your cue to start walking, and then take a few steps forward again. 
  • Now let’s do it on leash!

Where to practice next: 

  • On leash in your home or yard
  • On a walk in a quiet neighbourhood
  • Before crossing a street

Be sure you are at a safe distance from traffic! Do NOT test this one at the very edge of a busy intersection in case your dog misses the mark.

On a leashed walk:

  • Approach a curb or corner. Tell your dog, “Wait” and then stop and bring a treat down right in front of their nose and let them have it.
  • You may choose to feed a stream of 3-4 treats in the exact same place and when it’s safe to cross, give them a cue to start walking, and then cross the street.
  • Repeat at every curb and corner consistently. Over time you can choose to wean them off the food so that “let’s go” is the reinforcement.