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Advanced Distraction Training

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Brito is just beginning his Advanced Distraction Training.  This video picks up roughly where a dog would leave off if you completed all of the assignments in my book, “Beyond the Backyard; Train Your Dog To Listen Anytime; Anywhere!” (available on Amazon or from my own website, The Dog Athlete)

Note that I am introducing the idea of going away from me to a place (foot target) and Brito has to cross over cookies on the ground.

To get there:

Warm up with familiar work where your dog is moving towards you – in this case I start with a recall over cookies on the grass.  Make sure you have a plan for failure!  You’ll see that Brito goes for a cookie (which he gets) at :42. I add a “punishment” in the form of picking up all the remaining cookies and also delay before allowing him to try again (remember, control the environment and not the dog whenever possible).  Finally, my fast movement in to control the cookies alerts him to the fact that those cookies are not for him – yet!

Make sure you have higher value cookies to reward success!  On the grass he is getting cheerios (his routine training treat) and from my hands he is getting a dog cookie. 

On your first sends away from you, start very close to your dog so you can interrupt if he makes an error!  

Start in your most familiar training area.  Brito has been able to do this exercise at home, so we’re now taking the show on the road. (generalization).

Do not increase the challenge level until your dog can walk directly over the distraction food without bowing out.  That suggests confidence and a strong understanding of how to “win” – bowing out suggests either stress or unsureness.   (That’s fine but do not progress until that has subsided.)

In addition to working “over” distractions close up, I’m also working on calling him off of distractions after he has permission to eat the cookies directly off the grass.  You’ll see that start at about 5:30.  I tell Brito to eat the low value cookies off the floor, and now I bring out the meatballs to reward him!  I call him name, stick a meatball under his nose, and pull him off the cookies on the floor.  I do this repeatedly, sending him back to the grass cookies every time.  I will stay at this step until I can call him off of cheerio eating without luring him with a cookie on his nose.  From there, I will increase distance from the pile of cookies, lower the value of the reward cookie in my hand, and increase the value of the treats on the floor. One step at a time! Finally, Brito will be rewarded with work for calling off the treats (the work can then earn a cookie, either from my pocket, the ground, or another location altogether).

Take your time! I started seriously working on this a while ago when I attended a training in a building that had too much random food on the floor.  I realized that I could not control the environment – so rather than fighting about it and teaching Brito to opportunistically avoid me to get to random cookies, I’d train through it.  Eventually he’ll end up stronger in the presence of open distractions, but we’re not there yet!

Brito advanced distraction training

About dfenzi

I'm a professional dog trainer who specializes in building relationship in dog handler teams who compete in dog sports. My personal passions are Competitive Obedience and no force (motivational) dog training. I travel throughout the world teaching seminars on topics related to Dog Obedience and Building Drives and Motivation. I own Fenzi Dog Sports Academy, a comprehensive online school for motivational training of performance sport dogs.

3 responses »

  1. Great exercise. My dog can ignore treats when its part of an exercise, but random pieces of food on the floor always seem like fair game. I think this will help. Thanks. One question: where do you integrate play into training. You train for 6 minutes without play interval?
    It would be great (as I have pleaded before) to have a class where play and training are integrated and we talk about when and after what, so play isn’t just a separate class.

    • In this case I didn’t integrate any play. If I’m working on skill building I often do not and this is skill building rather than working on known chains.

      I truly have no idea how I would keep a class busy for six weeks with that topic. Simply add play when you feel that your dog needs a mental break and when you want to!

      • Play could be integrated into all classes. When your dog needs a mental break is not enuf info for those of us who have not trained with play. I think some of us need it repeatedly demonstrated until it becomes natural and fun.
        My dog also wants to keep working for food. We both are hooked on drills. Just like any other skill we may know it in our heads, but our bodies keep up the old patterns.

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