Distraction Training With Your Dog
Often when we accept clients into our different Charlotte in-home dog training programs, their dogs tend to lack some degree of focus and recall. Some dogs may not have any knowledge of any basic manners and obedience, but sometimes we get dogs that know numerous commands, yet with weak follow-up. When I meet clients at their initial in-home consultation, I speak with them while also observing the dog’s typical behavior in the home. Sometimes I’ll ask owners to demonstrate administering commands to their dogs, to see how responsive the dogs are. More often than not, dogs that know their commands will abide, sometimes with or without some type of lure (i.e.: treats). Usually, I will follow up with the question, “That’s great, but do you think they will listen immediately to you if we were, say for instance, at the park?” Many times, the owner will say one of the following:
“(laugh) No way!”
“(laugh) Eventually, maybe after five or ten tries!”
“It depends. If there’s (insert specific distraction) around, then no chance.”
“Maybe, but I would definitely need treats on hand to get some response.”
Distraction training with your dog is advanced training, and depending on your dog’s behavior and attention span, it can be very difficult and frustrating. If a dog owner is aiming to build reliability within their dog, then distraction training is an absolute must. When your dog becomes distracted or triggered, that is usually when you need their attention the most!
I had a client whose dog Barkley could do nearly every command, and almost every cute parlor trick a dog could do. But Barkley’s concentration suffered the most when there were tons of distractions around. He also did not seem to follow through with the command “Come”, whether it was a controlled environment, or one with chaos and tons of distractions. When we began with Barkley, we tightened his focus and recall in the home, before working in more distracting environments. Not only did this set him up for success, but it gave his owner more control of Barkley and his surroundings. Barkley could be set up for reward, and if he failed, his owner could take the reins and lead Barkley to better decisions and more success.
To begin distraction training, owners must always make sure the basics are taken care of with their dog. If the owner cannot control their dog or have their dog listen even with little to no distractions around, then there’s no way they’ll follow through when there ARE distractions surrounding them. If your dog cannot pay attention to you with other dogs (or people, cars, squirrels, children, etc) around, initially work in the home and then gradually reintroduce dogs into your dog’s environment. Gradual exposure is better than flooding your dog with triggers and stimuli, so if your dog goes bananas or gets distracted by dogs, try one or two dogs in the surroundings first, rather than a ton at once (i.e.: invite a friend and their dog over for a play date and start off with some distraction training before playtime. Don’t immediately reintroduce dogs into the picture by working with your dog at a busy dog park).
At Speedway Dog Training, whether your dog needs some or a lot, we will always include distraction training in your customized training protocol! We will work in-home to set your dog up for success, and then work in the real world with real world situations and distractions. This will make your dog reliable in ANY type of environment, inside the home or out! If you are interested in enrolling your dog in one of our training programs, call us at 704.741.2880!