Don't we all need a little focus? How to teach a dog to "focus"
Just a note
While training a dog for the first time it can get very frustrating. A lot seem to wonder why "doesn't he get it? Why is he ignoring me?". "This shouldn't be that hard! " Then things tend to go south from there. Please do not worry you aren't alone! There are always times that we feel that way and here I am to help you out as much as I can.
You probably never really thought of this but I always say not teaching a dog to focus and then trying to teach them anything else first is just like having a conversation with a person that isn't looking at you and you can see them paying more attention to other people or things around them. You need them to look at you and pay attention especially if you are trying to teach them something new. The same goes for your little pooch, if they aren't paying any mind to you than the training you are doing is a waste and you both will just become frustrated. How do you do train them to focus exactly? Gather your training tools and lets get started.
- 6 ft leash
- Buckle collar or harness
- Treat pouch for easy access
- Yummy treats- try to use something extra special for training. This helps the dog get even more excited to work
Easy steps to follow
1) Hold your leash in one hand with at least 5 pea size treats for quick distribution. See Picture for leash holding. (wrapping the leash around your hand or wrist is not recommended).
2) With your free hand grab one of those treats, show the dog the treat, and then hold it about chest level. Don't worry at first it may seem like a juggling act but soon you will be a professional.
3) He will probably be very excited whining and/or staring at the treat. After sometime he will look up at you even for a second probably "wondering what's going on why aren't I getting the treat".
4) As soon as you two make eye contact you have about 3 seconds to bridge and then give the treat. Some times when starting this behavior it may get a little tricky especially with smaller dogs, but you will be able to catch their eyes just after a few tries. Remember you are looking for eye contact.
5) Practice this for about 3-5 minutes every day a few times a day. You never want to make a session too long, this may become boring for your dog and you will lose his attention quickly.
6) After each training session give your dog his release word so that he knows that work time is over and he can take a break.
7) When you start noticing that when you put the treat in front of you he makes eye contact right away it is time to move to the next step. Now you can lengthen the time before you bridge and treat.
8) Extend the focus by seconds at a time. If he can hold it for 10 secs go to 15 seconds and work that length of time for awhile and so on. It may seem like such small numbers but seconds to them feel like an eternity. If you notice that it is getting too difficult for him to do, take a step back and repeat his last good time. You never want to keep trying to get them to do a step they are not ready for. Just like us they get frustrated and will want to quit working.
9) To change things up you can start to hold the treat at different sides of your body and start again from steps 3-7.
Teaching focus is a behavior that will help form other behaviors. Before each session I start off with focus just the warm both the dog and I up. This also lets them know that its work time. Just don't forget to release them when you're done. Consistency is everything, but don't worry you both will get the hang if it quickly.
Hope this helps!
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More training hubs to look for!
- Bridge words/Marker words
- and more to follow!
About bridge words
- Priming your BRIDGE word
How to start using a bridge word
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