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Does your dog sometimes lose focus during training? Do their minds wander when you need them to pay attention? Getting your dog’s attention back on task is more important than you think. Bring Steffi Trott along SpiritDog training explain why.
A professional dog trainer explains why refocusing your dog’s attention is important
There is a common mistake in dog training that I see quite often. Dog parents work hard to get and keep their dog’s attention. They choose delicious treats, play attention games and exercise often and consistently. This is wonderful, but despite all the work to train their dog’s brain, focus is often forgotten.
For example, it’s time to go for a walk and your dog is focused on you and ready to go. But by the time you reach the end of the driveway, your dog’s attention has been diverted elsewhere. While it may not seem like a big deal, believe me when I say that maintaining your dog’s focus and learning mindset is an important part of training.
In the case of a walk, the last thing you should do is keep walking if your dog has lost focus. Think about it this way. What would you do if you suddenly realized you had lost your wallet? You would definitely stop and retrace your steps to the last point where you had your wallet.
No one would keep walking, believing that their wallet would magically appear further down the path. That doesn’t make sense. The wallet fell out of your pocket sometime between the time you left the house and the time you realized it was gone. So you have to stop and get back to where you knew you had it.
Return and re-focus your dog
The exact same idea applies to your dog’s attention. If you lose your pup’s attention, there’s no reason to believe you’ll get it back by giving him even more distraction and input. If they lose their focus half a block from your house, they won’t magically regain it once you reach the dog park. Every step (both literally and figuratively) you continue to take towards the distraction takes further away from your dog’s attention (just like with the wallet!).
Let’s see what this looks like in practice. In this video I work with my dog Shine. When we filmed this, he was a younger dog and he LOVES his toys. If he wouldn’t listen, we stopped all excitement and returned to the last place (in this case, a “mental place”) where he was focused.
The next time you lose your dog’s attention, ask yourself, “If this were my wallet, where would I get it back?”
The answer is never forward. It’s always stopping and repeating/redoing. I hope you have the patience and consistency to stop and do it again. This simple exercise will help your dog’s training more than you think!
view more online training courses from SpiritDog Training to help your puppy get the best out of himself.