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Getting a pup to focus...

Discussion in 'Dog Training and Behaviour' started by Harperlove, Jan 11, 2020.


  1. Harperlove

    Harperlove PetForums Newbie

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    Hi all

    New member here!

    I have a lovely 5 month old pup. I grew up around GSD but never had one of my own and from a pup, so learning all the time. She’s a large breed - cross GSD/husky. Very energetic, friendly and loving.

    She’s been amazing with her basic training, I’ve been keeping it consistent and fun. Although she seems obsessed with other dogs and people on walks - it’s like she locks onto them and pulls. She gets so EXCITED and just wants to say hi!

    Ive tried using high level treats, squeaky toys and even jumping up and down waving my arms around to get her attention. It sometimes works if I start running she’ll chase after me...but I’m not sure if that’s teaching her how to act around other dogs/people correctly.

    I was just wondering, am I expecting too much from her just yet? Also, has anyone else had this and what techniques did they use that worked?

    Much appreciated

    Thank you :)
     
  2. Teenycygnet

    Teenycygnet PetForums Newbie

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    Hi not much advice im afraid as I’m in a similar boat with my 7 month Toller although he’s got a lot better recently with people who don’t have dogs (I guess they are much less interesting!)
    I often make my boy sit at the approach of another dog and I use “leave it” as the command - the results are a bit hit and miss atm but I’m hoping his excitement levels die down as he matures. My trainer at dog training class said if they HAVE to say hello to another dog (ie if the other owner is ok with it), allow 3 seconds of sniffing, as calm and non-jumpy as possible, then move on. And make sure you have clear commands such as heel, watch me, leave, etc and give treats liberally if they do well. I was also told to make allowances for his age and don’t expect too much too soon!
    I’m following this thread as I’m sure you will get lots of much better advice than mine soon!
     
  3. Sarah H

    Sarah H Grand Empress of the Universe

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    You need to be training FOR the situation, not IN the situation. Practice lots of recall and focus at home and in the garden, in quiet areas with few to no people, using something really yummy like cheese or liver cake. Remember if your dog isn't listening and is over excited they aren't in the right state to learn anything, so increase the distance from the distraction and try again.
     
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  4. Torin.

    Torin. PetForums VIP

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    So there's bits of good advice here, but I'm wondering if perhaps you've misunderstood some bits?
    E.g. using lots of treats to reward the difficult bits, 3 second greetings, being calm - all very good advice.

    However you want to set your dog up for success - have them practicing this stuff at a distance where they cannot fail to get it right. Once they can do it at x distance move a bit closer. The more they practice getting it right, the easier it'll be. However the more they practice getting it wrong (re. what you say about it being hit and miss) the more the behaviour you don't want will be ingrained etc.

    This is a good infographic too. Just because another owner is okay with the dogs saying hello, doesn't mean you should go for it.

    [​IMG]
    eta - posted at the same time as @Sarah H
     
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  5. Sairy

    Sairy PetForums VIP

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    Hi there, there are lots of ways to teach attention and you've been given some good advice above regarding meeting other dogs. I have a GSD and attention has been a massive focus for us. The behaviour of your dog is very normal for a pup, but you no doubt want to work on this. I put a thread up a while ago with some of my training videos on and I have copied and pasted below a description of what I have done with my dog, along with a video of us in action.

    This has been an ongoing project this year as I have always had issues with Holly's attention when she is supposed to be "working". Being a guarding breed she is naturally nosy and the training I had done with her in previous years had only been partially successful, the main reason being that she enjoys being nosy so waiting for her to look at me and then rewarding her just meant that she would have a good old gawp around first and then decide to look at me in her own time - not very helpful in competitions.

    We went on a training course with Kamal Fernandez in January and got a lot of inspiration from his technique which was basically to do the following things:
    1. Have switch on and switch off cues - I use "ready" as the switch on cue and "all done" to switch off. During switch on time I want Holly's complete focus on me. I don't care if she is walking by my side, in front of me or circling me, but I want her complete focus. Once she is switched off she can go and do her own thing.
    2. If during "switch on" time she looks away then she misses an event, which could be me running off in the other direction or perhaps her toy comes out and she misses it.
    3. If she keeps focus for a period of time then I will say the marker cue "yip" and she gets a game of tug.
    4. During tug she must keep hold of the toy. Any break in attention which causes her to loosen her grip then the toy gets away. If she keeps hold of it for a period of time (and despite distractions around her) then she wins the toy.

     
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  6. Sairy

    Sairy PetForums VIP

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    Duplicate post
     
  7. Teenycygnet

    Teenycygnet PetForums Newbie

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    Thank you that’s a really good point. The main reason I get him to sit is because I struggle to get him to walk past other dogs without jumping at them! whereas when he’s sitting he’s more focused on me. I try to do this at a distance where the dogs won’t pass close but it’s not always possible. (The other day he was sitting beautifully until a bloke brought his dog over to say hi because he thought that’s what we were sat waiting for! :Arghh) I’ll practice at a distance more. Thanks for the advice
     
  8. Torin.

    Torin. PetForums VIP

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    @Teenycygnet I sympathise as this is a similar situation to what I have with my dog. I don't know whether it'll be universal advice (@Sairy or @Sarah H could probably confirm either way?), but I would personally ditch the "leave it" cue. It's too hard for him to get right all the time due to the circumstances, so continuing to use the cue will confuse the issue. I'd keep going with everything else with making yourself more interesting to get focus etc., just without the cue at this point in time.

    The other thing I'd suggest is rather than you walking past other dogs, if you stop (possibly duck up somewhere with a bit more room such as looping back to a side road), if you stop, get your dog's attention, and hold their attention while the other person walks past. It's easier for a dog to keep attention on you if they don't have to do anything else at the same time like walking, especially if it'd be a face-to-face meeting with the angles involved. You're also then better set up in terms of your own human focus to say no to the other dog's potentially misinformed person.

    eta - I also like this engage-disengage game for teaching human focus for on walks
    [​IMG]
     
    #8 Torin., Jan 12, 2020
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2020
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  9. Sairy

    Sairy PetForums VIP

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    I would only use the "leave" cue if it has already been proofed. It might be too hard at the moment for your dog.

    Focus on you is good, but I would also say take into consideration the fact that your dog is mixed with a guarding breed and is therefore wired to want to know what is going on around her. Asking her to maintain eye contact with you whilst another dog/person walks past is a tall order at this stage (even my girl has to have a quick look if they come close) so give your dog chance to have a look at what is approaching and then get their attention on you in the form of play or seriously tasty treats. You could even cue "have a look" to allow this behaviour before "watch me" or "ready" - the cue I use to get my dog's focus.
     
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  10. Teenycygnet

    Teenycygnet PetForums Newbie

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    @Torin. & @Sairy thanks I will try without the “leave it” for a while and the engage-disengage game looks great! he is clicker trained so I think he’d respond well to that.
     
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  11. Harperlove

    Harperlove PetForums Newbie

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    Hi everyone

    There’s some really good advise here - thank you so much for your replies. Il read through and put into practice. Il let you know how I get on with her.
     
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