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Canine University 71 Clinton St. Malden, MA

How We Train

The Attention Game: A Game To Improve Your Dog's Response to You Around Distractions

Teaching your dog to pay attention to you in public and around distractions is the biggest challenge to any trainer, new or experienced.

The difference in your dog's performance at home and in public has a lot to do with your dog's ability to pay attention to you and block out distractions. First of all- it can't be overstated that a tired dog is a good dog!! No matter how much time you spend training your dog, it will all fall apart in the face of distraction if your dog isn't getting enough exercise. Running, swimming, playing with other dogs, it doesn't matter what it is, but your dog needs plenty of it in order to be able to block out distractions and pay attention to what you want him to do.

Teaching your dog to pay attention to you and respond to what you have taught him do is simple if you work at it. With even a little bit of effort you'll find that your dog will have a greater likelihood to look to you for direction when he goes somewhere new. The attention game is simple, fun and can be played anywhere: you may want to start at home, until you and your dog get good at it. For the first minute: set the timer, and sitting in a chair with your dog on a leash, count how many times your dog looks at you- click and treat each time. Write down that number so you don't forget it! During the second minute you are going to click and jackpot (give more than one treat) for each time that your dog looks at you: you don't need to count the number of times.

The third minute is the test minute. This is where you find out if the training is having any effect. Time yourself for the third minute and go back to one treat with each click each time the dog looks at you, counting how many times you click and treat. If the number from the first minute increases in the third minute, then you are on the right track and are working with just the right amount of distraction. If the number stays the same- the distractions can probably be increased. If the numbers go down- the environment is too stimulating and you should tone them down, move away from them or change the environment completely.

This simple exercise can change the whole quality of your training program, give you improved overall response from your dog, and give you greater control around stimulating distractions. Try playing this game everywhere and notice where your dog has the most problems and make adjustments to your training program to insure your dog's success.

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