Let’s be honest, your dog is going to be exposed to a lot of things in their lifetime. This includes distractions like other people, animals, and things that might scare or ‘trigger” your dog like sirens, loud voices, and even thunder (a lot of dogs are terrified of storms). Good training can help your dog ignore a lot of these distractions and consistently behave well. Our Woodlands dog training experts incorporate this as part of our training for dogs of all ages. Our “no approach fits all” training style helps us to understand what distracts one dog instead of another and why so we can provide individualized training for great results. To learn more please visit us online at Pup Town Houston.
Dog obedience classes are a must to ensure you have a well-mannered, socialized dog that is a great companion and faithful friend. You want to make sure that your dog doesn’t “walk you” or find its way into a harmful situation. This is why training, including ignoring or avoiding distractions, is so important for your dog. Not to mention you don’t want your dog to hurt another animal or even worse, a person. If you aren’t ready to enroll your pup in classes just yet, here are some tips on teaching your dog to overcome distractions and be a good canine citizen.
As simple as this sounds, it is important to know what your dog finds particularly fascinating. Some dogs can’t resist the urge to run up to another pup while others love to chase squirrels or other small animals. If your dog has a penchant for sniffing holes in the ground, this could be a potentially dangerous behavior as this could be an insect nest or home to a poisonous snake. And if you think a high-pitched siren makes humans wince, imagine what it does to Fido’s senses! Once you know what your dog’s triggers are, you can figure out the best way to help your pup not give them a second thought.
Set up Success
When helping your dog overcome distractions, develop a series of steps like levels 1-5 to help your dog reach its goal. If you are teaching your dog to sit, begin in a quiet environment until your dog has the command down pat. Then gradually introduce a series of distractions while you are giving the command to help your dog ignore the outside factors and focus solely on you. Start off with a very mild distraction like having the TV on in the background and as your dog completes each step, move your pooch to the final step, like being outside next to a whole family of squirrels while successfully sitting on command.
As you have a level of 1-5 for your dog’s distraction factors, find a level 1-5 of treats for your dog with 1 being something they love and 5 being a treat your pooch will dance and do backflips for. As your dog completes each level of overcoming distractions, increase the level of treat to increase positive reinforcement and a greater reward for a greater level of difficulty. Increasing the positive reinforcement is an effective way of holding your dog’s attention no matter what distraction may arise and you want to make sure you and your dog are prepared for any situation.
While you are teaching your dog to ignore distractions, an effective tactic is to create distance from the distraction. Let’s say your dog loves to chase squirrels and you realize you need to help your dog overcome this behavior. While you are in the first steps of helping your dog ignore this distraction, put as much distance between your dog and the squirrels as possible. When you are in the final steps of training, move your dog closer to the squirrels. By desensitizing your pup to the distraction, the goal is to reach the point of said object no longer being a distraction.
The same principle can be applied to dogs who are very eager to make new friends as you should be cautious of a new dog until you are familiar with its personality. By shrinking the stimulus area, you are not only teaching but also protecting yourself and your dog during this important learning experience.