Keeping the attention of a dog while training is not always easy. Dogs can be easily distracted, and it is important to not allow the training sessions to be sabotaged by boredom. Making training fun for the dog and the human alike is vital to creating a happy, well adjusted and well trained dog.
Providing random positive stimuli during the day is a great way to keep the interest of the dog. Doing things the dog enjoys, like walking in the park, riding in the car and playing with other dogs, is a great way to keep the dog’s attention and reward him for small successes.
For instance, in order to reward the dog for coming to you, ask the dog to come to you, without giving any clues about a walk, a car ride, or other treats. After the dog has come to you and obediently sat down, attach the lead and start the reward. This can be either the aforementioned walk in the park, ride in the car, or anything else the dog likes to do.
Providing some kind of reward, whether a treat, a special outing, or just a scratch behind the ears, every time the dog does something you want, is a great way to keep your dog motivated. If the dog knows something great is going to happen every time he obeys your command, he will be motivated to please you every time.
When training any dog, it is important to not let distractions disrupt the training. The dog must be taught to ignore distractions, such as other people, other dogs, other animals and loud noises, and focus on what is being taught. These types of distractions can even be used as rewards when training the dog to come when called.
For instance, if your dog enjoys playing with other dogs whether in a local dog park or with the neighbour’s dogs, let him play freely with those other dogs. Then go into the park or garden and call your dog. When he comes to you, provide lots of praise, treats and other rewards, then immediately allow the dog to go back to playing with his friends. Repeat this several times and praise the dog each time he comes to you. The dog will quickly learn that coming to you means good things (treats and praise) and not bad ones (being taken away from the park).
If the dog does not master this particular type of training right away, try not to get discouraged. So called distraction training is one of the most difficult things to teach. Dogs are naturally social animals, and breaking away from the pack is one of the most difficult things you can ask your dog to do. Most dogs will be understandably reluctant to leave their canine companions, but it is important to persist.
Training the dog to come to you may require some creativity on your part at first. For instance, waving a favorite toy, or a lure, is a great way to get your dog’s attention and put the focus back on you. If your dog has been clicker trained, a quick click can be a good motivator as well.
Once the dog begins to get the hang of coming when called, you can begin to reduce and eliminate the visual cues and focus on getting the dog to respond to your voice alone. It is important that the dog respond to voice commands alone, since you will not always have the availability of a toy or other lure.