Training a puppy to pay attention is one of the most fundamental exercises you can teach dog. Teaching them to pay attention around distraction is perhaps one of the toughest things you can do, especially with a puppy. The challenges presented by the distractions present in a dog park are numerous and unpredictable.
Sit Means Sit trainers love to train their dogs in dog parks as this is perhaps the most difficult situation to get your dog’s attention in. In the video below, Ashton Fitz-Gerald and Fred Hassen head to the local dog park in Las Vegas to train Ashton’s four month old puppy Phender around some extreme distraction.
Obviously with any puppy training, you want to begin teaching your dog to pay attention in an environment with little to no distraction. As the dog learns the ‘Art of Attention’ around little to no distraction, you can begin to add more distraction to proof the attention exercises. Beginning with distractions on a small scale and introducing new distractions individually you can begin to desensitize your puppy to them. As the dog can handle a variety of distractions individually, you can begin combining distractions to further proof the art of attention in your puppy. When the dog is capable of paying attention around multiple distractions in one environment, you can begin to proof the art of attention exercises in new environments, going back to the basics of introducing distractions individually, then progressing to multiple distractions. We have a great article outlining the ‘Art of Attention’ written by Sit Means Sit CEO Fred Hassen and Phoenix Dog Trainer Toni Drugmand. Read the article here
Teaching a puppy to pay attention can begin right away at home. There is no special training needed, just a leash and some really tasty treats. It’s easy to teach your puppy to pay attention to you with food around basic household distractions such as doorways, or even toys and trash cans. There are a lot of little things that puppies like to get into in the house. Why not take advantage of these training opportunities and teach your dog to pay attention.
The key to the art of attention is setting your dog up for success, but more importantly teaching him how to channel his energy using lures or rewards that are considered valuable to the dog. Treats and toys work very well for this, and second to the reward-based attention tools it can be very advantageous to use additional training tools to provide the physical connection of touch with your puppy or dog. Leashes and training collars (flat collars or remote dog training collars) can provide the ability to ‘touch’ your dog to cue him to pay attention to your reward-based attention tools. By linking a light tug on the leash with food and your verbal command, you can connect the attention from the treat, leash and verbal command together to create the strongest picture possible. While working to maintain this attention around distractions, it’s mostly a matter of distracting the dog with these attention tools to teach them how to filter out distractions on command.
Obviously we do not want our dog to always ignore distractions (such as with a protection dog, or a pet dog). We like to be able to allow our dogs and puppies to be dogs and play when we release them from command.
The video below follows ‘Phender’ at age 4 months during a visit to the dog park. You will see our trainer using a variety of attention tools to maintain and regain the puppy’s attention around other dogs in the dog park. Ashton (our trainer) uses treats, toys (a tennis ball) and a Sit Means Sit dog training collar to maintain his puppy’s attention while at the same time maintain a truly happy and relaxed attitude in his puppy.
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Want to see some more cool puppy training videos? We have a whole feed-bag full of them. Check out our puppy training videos page to see some cool puppy training videos.