Mama Sally: In training dogs, I always have to come back to work with distractions, because so many of my clients struggle in this area. Most dogs will perform perfectly when there’s nothing competing for their attention. However, when we walk out of our house with our dog, or we bring someone new into our house, the stimulation and excitement for your dog is off the charts!
What are you offering to compete with all of that? Does your dog even realize that you are on the other end of the leash? Dogs who are well socialized have much more ease in ignoring distractions, because they’re used to seeing things, and learn to generalize all of it. If you live alone, you may have to borrow your neighbor on a daily basis to ring a doorbell and give your dog some practice in greeting folks who come to visit you.
The best time to start work on this issue is with young puppies, because you can take them anywhere and everywhere with you, and practice letting them just sit and watch things in their world, and then slipping in some training with “Leave it” and “Watch me.” You can train for 3 minutes and let them observe for several. Then back to training, and then relax, and so forth.
Many owners get their dogs as older puppies or even as adults, and the ship for most effective socialization left port when your dog was a very young puppy….typically 16-20 weeks. You can still socialize your dogs, of course, using the exact same blueprint of observe a bit, focus a bit, etc., but it will be a bit harder, and you’ll have learned behavior that your dog must un-learn. You’ll just need to be more patient, and it will likely take a bit longer, but if you are consistent, you’ll see improvement in most cases.
Part of the issue as I see it, is that owners in general, offer their dogs so much free love in the form of petting, snacks, toys, etc., that dogs see no point in working for anything….much like a spoiled, entitled child. As humans, we love to just snuggle and cuddle our dogs, and we get such a great warm fuzzy when we see how happy they are getting that new toy, or some extra snacks in their day. Incessant access to being petted and snuggled, treats and snacks, …and really,…why in the world would a dog “work” for anything? He’s getting everything he wants for free?
Remember that your dog doesn’t “need” someone to spoil him, he needs someone who can safely lead, guide and protect him. He needs a leader who will be fair and consistent to him, and who will help him go through life from success to success, rather than failure to failure. If you make your offerings absolutely tantalizing, you won’t have to force your dog or coerce him into anything. Dogs are very, very smart, and they know a great deal when they see one! Be sure you’re offering your dog that great deal when he’s working for you!
Rugby James: When the Mama is working wif me when I’m distracted, this is the time that she gives me the high value treats! I doesn’t get high value treats unless we are working on something that is very difficult. If it’s everyday training, I gets extra dog food kibbles. So when the Mama pulls out sum “Lakse Kronch” or sum freeze-dried tripe, and sticks it right in front of my nose, you better believe I wantsa pay attention to the Mama and give her exactly the behavior that she wants from me.
This is also the time what I gets lots of petting and a happy, cheerful voice from the Mama. I just lubs that attention, and hearing the Mama say kind, happy fings to me when I do a great job! It makes me really wanna work hard, on account of I really, really likes making the Mama proud of me, and also, I doesn’t get much free lubs until our bedtime snuggle.
So, really, the Mama is just giving me a choice to do what she wants me to do. She gives me a really super duper, terrific paycheck, so I can’t hardly say no to her. I know a great deal when I see and smell one, and the Mama knows how to give me sumping irresistible. Give that a try wif your doggers, and see what a difference you’ll get from them!!