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. During this week we will look at various ways to proof your dog.

Training Note: 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.

What impacts your dog’s ability to work when in the presence of 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 (1’s) used as distractions are more difficult for your dog to be right than low value reinforcements (3’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 on distractions. Your goal is to build your dog’s confidence, 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

Training Note: If your dog is unsuccessful twice 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 times in a row, decrease the distance between you and your dog. So if you were standing 20’ away when your dog was unsuccessful, shorten that distance to 10’ but keep the distraction in the same location.
  • Another way to simplify is to increase the distance between your dog’s position or path and the location of the distraction. So if the distraction was 5’ away from your dog or your dog’s path, move the distraction so that it is 8’ away from your dog or your dog’s path.
  • Remember: If your dog is unsuccessful twice in a row, do something to SIMPLIFY BUT keep the distraction present.

Knowing how to proof successfully will create a confident and happy working dog that can rise to any occasion that might happen while training or in a show ring.