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Attention is the foundation of training. If your dog can stop everything and look at you when you say her name, you have the beginnings of a solid training relationship, and you can start solving any problem. So practice:
- Get a supply of small soft treats.
- Find a quiet place with no distractions.
- Say your dog's name with lots of excitement.
- When he/she looks at you, say, "YES!" and give a treat.
- Repeat until you have ten successes in a row.
- Then go to a new location and start over.
- Keep increasing distractions to make it more difficult.
- Take baby steps!
- Don't try this at the park if it doesn't work in the backyard.
- Leash pulling: Ask for attention, instead of pulling.
- Can't concentrate? Ask for attention, first.
- Don't jump on grandma.
- Don't chase that squirrel (with practice).
- Stop barking (It might work!)
- Stay out of trouble.
- In general, ask for your dog's attention rather than saying, no.
- This helps teach your dog what to do instead of getting into trouble.
Longer attention for more control:
- Start over in the easiest location.
- Say your dog's name the same way.
- When he/she looks at you, wait a nanosecond... Then say, "YES!" and give a treat.
- Each time wait just a little longer before saying, "YES!"
- If your dog can't wait for the treat, go back to shorter pauses.
- Get ten successes before you add another nanosecond.
- When you move to a new location, start over at one nanosecond.
- Be patient! Increase the difficulty slowly!
- Your goal is to make it so easy that your dog is always successful.
Ignore the treat:
- Get a treat in each hand.
- Hold your hands out to each side of your face, palms up.
- Wait... ... ... When he/she looks at your face, say, "YES!" and give a treat.
- This teaches the dog to focus on you rather than the treats.
- Move to new locations, etc.
Charge a clicker:
- The reason to say, "YES!" is to mark the instant of success.
- Timing is very important for teaching new ideas
- An even better method is to use a clicker
- They're available at Love on a Leash and most pet supply stores
- To charge it up, just click and give a treat.
- Do that several times in a row.
- Then start using it instead of "YES!" in the attention exercises above.
Here are three of our favorite clicker training web sites:
- Small treats are better; you can give more.
- Soft treats allow you to work faster.
- Pay attention to ingredients; many contain lots of sugar and salt.
- Your first class will be the most difficult distraction ever.
- Better treats = better attention.
- You might use Cheerios or kibble at home, with success. But cubed beef, chicken or cheese will work better in class.
The real bosses at Love on a Leash: Tego,
Rohan and Deva