The idea of "impulse control" is that what your dog wants, his "impulses," aren't always appropriate, so you ask him to "control" them.

For example, your pup might want to jump on the counter and grab a freshly cooked piece of chicken, but you'd prefer he didn't because that's your dinner. He might want to run out the door and chase a car, but you'd prefer he didn't because he might get injured.

Thus, impulse control is a valuable and necessary skill, but the term "impulse control" goes about it all wrong.

Instead of asking your dog to control himself, which just sounds like the way a nagging parent talks—"Control yourself!"—we ask him to make a decision. We tell him, "You decide."

Do you want to try (and fail) to steal that chicken now, or do you want me to throw you a big piece later? You decide.

Do you want to run out the door now and immediately be called back inside, or do you want to go out together and play a game of frisbee? You decide.

If you want a dog that does the right thing even when you're not around, then you have to let him make his own decisions.

A dog that is forced to do something hasn't learned anything, whereas a dog that made his own decision and got a tasty reward has learned a lot.