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Madeleine Ross, CPDT-KA, January 31 2020

Improving Reliability Around Distractions

One of the big reasons that so many dog owners struggle to improve their dog’s reliability with following cues around distractions is that they never give their dog a chance to be SUCCESSFUL around distractions.

Practising your training with no distractions is important for when you’re first teaching a new behaviour, but if you’re only training at home your dog won’t get to practise with distractions at all. If you go straight from a no distraction environment to a super busy environment, your dog is likely to struggle and fail more than they succeed. Failing over and over again won’t improve your dog’s reliability around distractions either.

Instead, try adding some steps in between the two extremes, so that your dog has the opportunity to successfully respond to their cues around distractions. For example, if your dog will listen to their name in the house, but not at the park, try practising in your back yard. If your dog can walk nicely on leash in your backyard, but not once you step out the gate onto the street, try practising in your yard with the gate open. If coming when called away from playtime with other dogs is too hard, try calling them when they’re looking at a dog in the distance to start with.

As your dog's reliability improves, you can gradually increase the difficulty of the distractions, always ensuring your dog is able to succeed.

Don’t forget to use high value reinforcers to reward your dog for work around distractions as well!

If you’d like to learn more about why dogs struggle to listen around distractions, check out That Dog Geek’s video: https://www.beacondogtraining.com.au/distractions-video

Written by

Madeleine Ross, CPDT-KA

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