Introduction to Distractions3 minute read
As you know, distractions are a big part of why walking on a leash is so hard. Walking together might be easy if there wasn't an interesting smelling light pole over here and a fun looking dog friend over there.
That's why distractions need to be a big part of your loose-leash walking training. One way to tackle distractions is to practice with distractions around and show your pup that what you have to offer is more valuable (e.g. more delicious and more fun) than the distraction. Another way is to develop specific tools for avoiding and minimizing distractions.
This section has elements of both strategies.
Goals of this Section
- Your dog learns to ask for permission to interact with a distraction
- Your dog learns to ignore a distraction when you ask her to
- Your dog learns to calmly walk by strong distractions such as other dogs
- Your dog learns to calmly approach strong distractions
- Your dog learns to walk at your pace and not ahead of you
Section Games Overview
One method for improving your walks is developing rules around when it's okay for your pup to investigate another object and when it's not. Your pup is going to want to investigate things anyway, so one way to get control over that is to put it on cue. "Go See" is a permission cue that tells your dog it's okay to go sniff, look, or otherwise explore what's interesting to her.
The other permission cue you'll use frequently is "Leave It" but in this case, the cue actually means "I don't want you to investigate that." You'll use this game whenever you're walking past a piece of food on the ground or your dog is about to stop and take a long sniff of a fire hydrant and you just want to keep walking. When used with "Go See" this game gives you just the communication system you need to help you and your dog stay in sync on walks.
This game specifically practices walking directly towards a strong distraction. Maybe your dog pulls as you're walking to the car because she knows she's about to go on an adventure, or maybe she pulls as you're walking out the door. Whatever the scenario, this game gives you a method for teaching polite calm approaches.
This game is like "Polite Approaches" except now you're walking by the distraction instead of towards it. It changes your dog's behavior and how you'll train her to make a good decision. This game focuses on walking by other dogs, but it applies to any distraction that has your dog craning her neck and pulling on the leash to get a closer look.
"Speed Bumps" is less of a game that you teach and more of a game that you use. It gives you multiple ways to slow down your dog if (or really, when) she starts walking too fast. Each method is simple in its own right, so we combined them all into a single game.