Adding Too Many Distractions

Something that happens regularly with people and dogs is when dogs do not respond to cues given to them by the human. This is normal. And by normal I mean common. Even among professional dog trainers.

In today’s video I am working with Ira on heeling. We have started what is called “left sided walking” which is the first step to teaching good/competition heeling.

I am shaping Ira’s heeling by click/rewarding the criterion of being on my left side.

That is it.

He doesn’t have to stay there, he doesn’t have to look at me, just be on my left side. I will gradually increase the amount of time he needs to be there before rewarding. Once he is doing that well I will add another criterion, and so on.

When we started training in the yard in this video, I did not think that Ernie’s presence in the lean would have quite the effect that it did on Ira. But of course it is a distraction to Ira.

When adding a distractions – even a mild one –  don’t do it too soon. That is what I did here. This is only our second training session doing this and the distraction is too great for a five month old puppy.

Even though I tried to remedy this distraction with extra food rewards and rapid clicking, it was not enough. The behaviour did improve but I didn’t feel that this was the optimal situation for the training.

Next time I’ll be more careful.

So, the lesson in this is to practice more around fewer distractions. Increase distractions gradually. This will result in a better behaviour and easier training. From my perspective anyway.


2 thoughts on “Adding Too Many Distractions

  1. We did exactly that with Ray’s training. Wherever possible we used our back garden so as to avoid potential distractions. Once he had mastered a specific task, then we took him out to a local park where we were now competing with wildlife, people and other dogs, for his attention. It also supports the concept that when training a dog, we should always set him up for success. Failure will simply fast track an attitude of indifference to future training attempts. It worked so well with Ray that he used to get excited when we were clearly getting ready for more training. He still does! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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