Training Game 4.5

This is our last challenge…make it a good one!

Adding Distractions

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To teach your dog best, keep him successful as possible. That means that if your dog can’t find your face in a particular situation, it’s just too distracting for him.

Distractions will affect your training efforts distractionsin three ways:

  • distance
  • duration
  • intensity

If your dog has trouble focusing it may be because:

  • you are too close to a distraction
  • you may be around the distraction for too long
  • the distraction may be too exciting, interesting, active, scary or conspicuous

For example, your dog may be distracted by another dog when:

  • you are too close to the other dog
  • your dog can watch the other dog for too long
  • the other dog is big, is bouncy, is barking, is making direct eye contact with your dog or maybe even approaching your dog

Keeping your dog successful means that you monitor his ability to focus and be comfortable around distractions.

Asking your dog to focus with distractions

Distance:

Start with distance from potentially distracting situations

How close can you be to a distraction, that your dog can find your face?

A good indication is that if your dog can do the Find my Face exercise, take their reward and then offer another focus, within a 5-count

If there is more of a delay or your dog has difficulty playing the
game at all, you’re too close.

Take a few steps away, and try again.

When your dog can offer 5 repetitions, with a 5-count or less between each one, take a couple of steps closer and build again.

When working on distance:distance

  • work for about 30 seconds to 1 minute
  • practice using distractions that are quiet, still, not facing your dog, not interacting with your dog in any way and are not too conspicuous
Duration:

When your dog is able to play focus games pretty close to distractions, start to build the length of each session.

Build by no more than 30 seconds at a time.

When working on duration:duration

  • practice at your starting working distance – decrease distance again gradually
  • practice using distractions that are quiet, still, not facing your dog, not interacting with your dog in any way and are not too conspicuous
Intensity

Now your dog is able to focus closer to distractions for a little longer – it’s time to increase the intensity of that distraction.

  • play Find my Face around more active distractions

When working on intensity:intensity

  • practice at your starting working distance – increase distance again gradually
  • work for about 30 seconds to 1 minute

 

Combinations

As your dog improves and is able to Find your Face in and around distractions start to decrease distance while at the same time increasing duration or build intensity while decreasing distance.

This will best help you to have your dog responsive and with you in all sorts of situations.

 

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Setting your dog (and you) up for success:

  • Adjust the distance, duration and intensity of exposure to distractions when working on focus exercises according to your dog’s abilities.
  • Use rewards that can compete with the level of distraction you are working on.
  • Keep the lead loose.
  • If your dog vocalises, lunges, jumps up on you and is too easily distracted – give your dog a break.
  • If the situation is too much for your dog, get him outta there!
  • If you haven’t trained for it, you can’t expect it!

 

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