DISTRACTION TRAINING

(or proofing) builds your dog’s confidence, focus, and attention on you so that your dog can perform a skill any place, anytime, no matter what is happening.

 

I introduce and teach my dog a NEW CONCEPT, such as distraction/proofing, using non-traditional skills.  In this case, proofing/distraction work will be done first when my dogs are doing fun tricks/games.

What things impact your dog’s ability to work around distractions?

  • How far your dog is from the distraction.
  • The distance you are from your dog.  The closer you are to your dog, the more confidence your dog will have.
  • The value of the distraction.  High value reinforcements (A’s) used as distractions are more difficult for your dog to be right than low value reinforcements (C’s) used as distractions.
  • Whether the distraction is moving or stationary.
  • Whether your dog is moving or stationary.
  • Your dog’s basic temperament.  Some dogs worry about things in the environment; some dogs are very visually sensitive, some dogs have noise sensitivities, etc.

Watch your dog for signs of stress when working with distractions.  Your goal is to build confidence, yet not make your dog worry.

Some of the signs of stress are:

  • Ears laid back
  • Panting
  • Yawning
  • Mouth tight
  • Low body posture
  • Eyes wide or glassy
  • Tail tucked

If your dog is unsuccessful two to three times in a row, simplify what you are doing, BUT keep the distraction present.

Examples:  If you are working away from your dog (such as doing a recall), and your dog was unsuccessful two or three times, decrease the distance between you and your dog.  So, if you were standing 20 feet away when your dog was unsuccessful, shorten that distance to 10 feet, but keep the distraction in the same location.

Another way is to increase the distance between your dog’s position or path, and the location of the distraction.  So, if the distraction was 5 feet away from your dog or your dog’s path, move the distraction so that it is 8 feet away from your dog or your dog’s path.

COMMON ERRORS – Handlers Make

  • Making it too easy. If your dog is right all of the time, you are not getting the most out of proofing training.   Your being wrong is your opportunity to show him how to be correct.
  • Making it too hard. When training, look to the 80% rule.  That is, I want my dog to be correct 80% of the time.
  • Correcting a dog that does not understand the skill. During proofing, I will repeat the proofing challenge 2-3 times.  If my dog is always wrong, he doesn’t understand the skill.
  • Simplifying too much when the dog is wrong.  Once my dog shows me that my proofing challenge is too much, I will gradually simplify until a proper proofing level is found.
  •  Once a dog knows a skill, luring can longer be used!

It is not bad for your dog to be wrong.  Your dog being wrong is your opportunity to teach your dog how to be correct.

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