“Stop!” is a great obedience command.
When your dog is running for the road, when your child is running toward a cliff, sometimes “stop!” becomes the most important word in the world.
It’s also great for marking boundaries, which I’ll get to in more depth later.
How To Teach Your
Puppy Toddler To Stop On Command
Introduce “stop!” as a game.
For a puppy, that means that you let your puppy walk around, dragging a leash, and then call “stop!” and step on the leash so the puppy is jerked to an abrupt halt.
Then you cheer like he’s just done something clever and give him lots of treats and praise. You do this a bunch of times until your puppy will stop and look up expectantly whenever you call “stop!”
For toddlers, it’s even easier, because they imitate very naturally (dogs actually do learn by imitation as well, but not nearly so well as a baby). So you don’t even need the leash!
All you have to do is march about acting silly, then yell “stop!” and freeze. Babies love drama, so feel free to do ridiculous, Loony Toons type freezing in place.
Soon your toddler will be laughing and freezing along with you when you yell “stop!”. If your toddler is verbal, encourage her to yell “stop!” and make you freeze, then take a turn at calling “stop!” and freezing her.
Make it a really fun game. Play it often. Be fun and enthusiastic about it. Soon they will LOVE “stop!”
Next, introduce the game at unexpected moments. You could be on the way to the car, or heading upstairs to bed. Then you yell “stop!” to see if they do it.
When dog disregards the command, I recommend a sharp “no!” and a clap of the hands, which will usually stop the dog in its tracks, giving you an opportunity to reward him for stopping.
For a toddler, all you have to do is go “Ooops! You forgot to stop! Silly!” then have a laugh together and try again.
Then go back to step one, because they haven’t got the game memorized yet.
If they DO stop, throw an even bigger party than when they obey during normal play time.
“You remembered! YAY YOU!” and so on. For a dog, lots of surprise treats. For a toddler, surprise tickles.
Once you have established that your puppy/toddler will, indeed, stop with glee when you yell the word stop at random moments, introduce the command in real life situations.
Call it when they take off down the side walk, clearly bent on giving you a heart attack. Call it when they are driving you crazy. Call it when you just, for whatever reason, need them to STOP WHAT THEY ARE DOING.
And then never forget to praise and make a fuss over them when they listen.
When they don’t, physically go in and stop them, and chide them for forgetting the game. Then give them a chance to try again, and win.
The one thing you must never do is…
…call “stop!” and let them keep going.
If you call “stop!” and they ignore you, chase them down, chide them for forgetting, and give them another chance to get it right.
If you call “stop!” and let them keep going the one time they try it… they will lose interest in the game. They won’t stop next time, either.
So once you’ve built the good habit, keep it up!
It’s a lifesaver.