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Old 01-01-2013, 03:11 AM
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How to get a distracted puppy to pay attention?

I am having difficulty with my puppy paying attention to me. Indoors he pays attention 75% of the time. Outdoors only 15%, haha. And only 1% when there are other people or dogs around that interest him greatly. How can I get him to pay me more attention? Treats don't work with my incredibly distracted puppy who is hell bent on meeting every person, cyclist, dog walker, and cross country skier in sight!

Suggestions?


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Old 01-01-2013, 05:23 AM
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sorry I have none....our dog didnt have any focus until he was about 1...he grew into it lol..he failed puppy preschool due to his inability to focus..very short attention span..but I know others here will be a big help for you tho..
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Old 01-01-2013, 12:10 PM
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I don't know how old your puppy is.

Start with the simplest command, with food, in the 15% time. Then slowly build up from there. For example, I decided to get serious about my dog's sit stay a couple of months ago. He could sit forever, but I discovered only for 5 seconds at my command. So, we did 5 seconds, in the family room, over and over for days. Now we can do 20 seconds, and handle some distractions, like me opening the front door. Now I've also started sit stay outdoors, but back to five seconds. Sounds like a long process, but progress keeps us going. One mistake I've been making is asking too much of my dog in high distraction environments. I need to increase the challenge more slowly.
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Old 01-01-2013, 12:12 PM
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keep repeating to yourself - "baby brain." Your puppy has a baby brain at this point. At five, I think Max still has a baby brain! "You want me to sit, Mom? Okay. SQUIRREL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! See ya!"
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Old 01-01-2013, 01:08 PM
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Hahaha, yes. My puppy is just a wee baby at 14 weeks. I know this is a HUGE factor! He was temporarily "suspended" from dog day care because he was too distracted, difficult to redirect, and seriously ADHD. Hahaha, they told us to come back the day he starts puppy classes on the 21st so he could be sufficiently worn out and thus more able to learn. Honestly, I kind of expect him to fail puppy classes, hahaha.

Thank you all for the advice, though. It is unfortunate, but we live in a very high distraction environment. A lot of dogs, people, and cars in my neighborhood. He is slowly getting better. He sits when people and cars come nearby. But when they get really close he loses focus. Very easily, haha.


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Old 01-01-2013, 01:15 PM
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Don't try to outbid distractions with food. That's a common mistake when you use food as a reward. If a treat doesn't get his attention, the distraction is too high to make a good training moment out of it. And you want his attention to be on you, not the treat anyway.

Work in the 85% attention zone in order to build habits like looking you in the eye, sitting on command, and coming when called. Then, once he's solid in the 85% zone, you can start moving into higher and higher distraction levels. If the situation proves to be too distracting, move to an easier situation and continue practice. You need to pit habits against distractions, not treats.

With a few exceptions, treats should be shown and given after does something you want, not produced before as the motivator. You're not bribing your dog to obey you. That just teaches him to obey the treat. You're repeatedly rewarding the dog for obeying you and thus creating a deep-seated habit than can hold up against powerful distractions.

When you have to be in high distraction environments where you can't train successfully, prevent him from being self-rewarded for undesired behavior. For example, don't let him greet people if he tries to drag you to them. And don't waste commands on him in the high distraction environment if there's little chance he'll obey. That just weakens the command and undermines the work you've done in the low distraction environment.
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Last edited by tippykayak; 01-01-2013 at 02:10 PM. Reason: clarifications
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Old 01-01-2013, 01:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ally1h View Post
Hahaha, yes. My puppy is just a wee baby at 14 weeks. I know this is a HUGE factor! He was temporarily "suspended" from dog day care because he was too distracted, difficult to redirect, and seriously ADHD. Hahaha, they told us to come back the day he starts puppy classes on the 21st so he could be sufficiently worn out and thus more able to learn. Honestly, I kind of expect him to fail puppy classes, hahaha.
You can't fail puppy class! In any case, the concept should not exist. <rant>Which reminds me of the AKC STAR Puppy.</rant>.
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Old 01-01-2013, 03:05 PM
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I suppose what I wonder the most is, how much of his distraction and not paying attention is due to being a puppy and how much is due to me being ineffective with my training? He has been like this since the day I brought him home. He has learned some behaviors consistently, such as always sitting for his food. And although I am consistent with making him sit at the door every time we go out, he still won't do it as a habit. So I really wonder how much is me and how much is it him being a puppy?




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Old 01-01-2013, 03:13 PM
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Do little sessions with him 5 to 10 mins BEFORE meal time. Even if hos supper is a little late. Most Goldens love food so I like to stick to what works. Also, use something that is only a treat something soft like cheese or leftover chicken or roast. Basically high value. Also, do it when he has some energy because when babies get tired it is hard to focus as well. Keep it fun and short even if you feel crazy praise him "OH you are so clever, what a good boy etc. Hopefully, that helps.
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Old 01-01-2013, 03:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ally1h View Post
Thank you all for the advice, though. It is unfortunate, but we live in a very high distraction environment. A lot of dogs, people, and cars in my neighborhood. He is slowly getting better. He sits when people and cars come nearby. But when they get really close he loses focus. Very easily, haha.

... and ...

So I really wonder how much is me and how much is it him being a puppy?
Maybe some of the training experts will weigh in, but I'd say it's mostly puppy at this age. Over time, he will get better (desensitized?). Casper ignores people if they are across the street, down the street, or behind him. The tough ones are the ones walking directly at him. In our obedience class, he's doing really well ignoring the other dogs and people. He has trouble if people get too close (10ft) or if they start throwing toys around. Last week, the girl next to us kept throwing her ball up in the air and catching it. He wiggles a lot when we do polite greetings, but the instructor (who is so nice) says he's a natural therapy dog. She feels he's being appropriate - wiggling, but all four feet on the ground and keeping his mouth shut.

I sympathize with the high distraction environment. We walk Casper twice a day in our busy suburb. Rarely can I get through even a 15-minute walk without at least one distraction such as a barking dog, person, or a dead vermin. Over 30-minutes, I can guarantee at least one dog-aggressive dog encounter. (And Casper is getting really tired of it.)

Also, somethings are easier than others. As far as I can tell, it's pretty easy to sit for your supper. It's a lot harder to ignore a snarling dog.
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