Distraction and Focus

Spring is here, and that means outdoor training is resuming. Distractions will be plentiful and extremely tempting to your dog, and you’re both going to be challenged to stay focused on each other. This is an important part of building and maintaining mutual trust and respect between you and your dog; if you can’t hold your dog’s attention around common, daily-life distractions, it’s not likely you’ll be able to do that in situations with less common, far more interesting distractions.

Outdoor training provides a variety of challenges for you and your dog to work through. People are out and about with and without dogs, on skateboards and bicycles, on scooters or in wheelchairs, in strollers and carriages… All of these things are highly stimulating to a dog and can cause them to lunge and pull at the leash, nip or bite at you to make you let go, chew at their leash in an effort to break free of it, or any number of other unwanted behaviors. So, making yourself the most interesting thing in their world – and being calm and assertive about it – is very important.

No matter what kind of training you’re doing with your dog, try to work them around as many distractions as possible, as often as possible. Give them reasons to see you as the most important thing in their world, and the highest and most valuable reward. Stay calm, be assertive, and acknowledge them when they make the right choices. When your dog is looking to you for direction and guidance – especially in situations that can get them overly excited – you know you’re making headway with them. They’re telling you they’re trusting you to have the situation under control; make sure you prove them right.

Have a great day, and remember to stay calm and lead on.


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