How to Teach Your Dog to Focus: Distraction Proofing Your Dog
Praise your dog for making eye contact
It perhaps has happened to everyone who has owned dogs: their dog obeys always on the spot at home but once at the dog park or at a friend's home, your dog acts like he has never heard the word ''sit'' and decides to put on his deaf ears. Another typical scenario are dog owners that become frustrated as their dog just comes out fresh from an obedience class only to forget all he has learned once he steps out of the training center.
Both scenarios are different but they stem from the same problem: dogs that have not been trained or trained sufficiently to deal with distractions. Owners may have the most trusted, obedient and submissive dogs at home and the second they are out their home and on the road, they seem to forget all about manners and drag their poor owners along the road greeting enthusiastically everybody he sees.
The secret to well behaved dogs is to distraction proof them. What does this exactly mean? Distraction proofing means applying what your dog has learned in a controlled environment (ie your home, yard or obedience training class) and taking it out into increasingly more distracting areas.
Getting this done gradually is the key. If your dog obeys to your sit command right away at home, it is time that you try this command in your back yard, then your front yard, then in a park early in the morning, and finally in the park during rush hour. What you are basically teaching your dog to do, is applying your commands everywhere.
Dogs really do not generalize much. While they know what sit means at home they may be unable to apply the sit command outside. As an owner you must ensure your dog knows thqat ''sit '' means sit regardless if you are in your living room, at the vet or at that busy dog park.
Distraction proofing your dog is bringing your dog training to the ultimate and most difficult level. Because dogs have a hard time focusing at times, distraction proofing your dog will earn you more control over your dog in even critical situations.
One example? A good recall is a life saver. Let's say your dog comes right away when called across your yard. But will your dog back to you if he runs off from you to greet that other dog across the street risking to be run over? You want your dog to respond to a solid recall command no matter where he is and no matter what is happening.
This is not an easy task but it is so much worthy. Your obedience trainer can assist you in providing distraction proof techniques,teaching your dog to obey to a command or make eye contact with you on command may help in several scenarios.
It all can be accomplished by taking along high value treats and providing lots of praise when your dog makes the right choice of choosing to obey a command rather than looking around and sniffing scents along the road. The street to distraction proofing your dog may be challenging but it is very rewarding in the long run. Expect people to comment on how well behaved your dog is as you walk through several distractions that would send most dogs into a frenzy!