Naturally people ask us, “How can I get my dog to listen when he is distracted” like your dogs at your training in Northern Virginia? Many people watch our 400+ videos on our YouTube Channel and they see the dogs we train in Northern Virginia performing flawless obedience: outside, off-leash, with distractions (people, dogs, cars, wild animals, etc).
The first and the most important step that seems like common sense; however, many people easily try to skip over is, “Get your dog’s obedience near perfect without distractions first.” At our dog training facility in Northern Virginia, I literally say on a daily basis, “If your dog isn’t almost perfect at obedience without distractions, why try it with distractions?”
So, the first and most important step is to get your dog enrolled in dog obedience training program like ours in Northern Virginia, so you can get your dog’s obedience nearly flawless without being distracted.
Now that your dog can be outside, off leash, and performing obedience very reliably WITHOUT distractions, now you SLOWLY begin phasing distractions in. This is another key step that many people do not understand, they get their dog to listen pretty well, then take them to a dog park and try to practice, that’s not the proper way to do it and it is setting your dog up to fail (and setting yourself up for disappointment).
The analogy I always use with our clients at my dog training facility in Northern Virginia is equate working your dog with distractions like you learning to drive. First, your parents take you to an empty parking lot (no distractions) and get you parking, driving straight, reversing (etc) reliably, right? Once they feel comfortable with you doing this, they let you drive around the store parking lot, then they let you drive in town, then they let you drive on the highway during “off” hours (little traffic), finally they let you drive wherever you want and whenever you want.
Look at working your dog with distractions using this same methodology. Get them perfect on their own first, then get them perfect with 1 or 2 dogs around, then a car or two, then some noises, then more dogs, more cars, and more noises. Then slowly progress the distractions until they can be reliable in any environment.
I literally just wrote an email to a lady yesterday who told me her dog was really good on his own but, not good with distraction. She went on to tell me a story of how as soon as her dog saw another dog he took off running and pulled her down. As I always, I respond and said, “Have you spent time working him around distractions?” She self-admittedly said, “No, not really.” So, I told her what I tell everyone, “Your dog will NEVER be good with distractions if you only try to get them to listen when they just-so-happen to encounter a distraction.” Literally it is impossible, and I have never seen it done in my entire life. All dogs that are flawless with distractions (like the dogs you see on our YouTube Channel) are because we practice with them on a regular basis with dogs, people, and noises, so they quickly become desensitized to them and learn to ignore them.
I’m going to give you the biggest secret in dog training that others will charge you thousands for! Are you ready?!
“-The only way to get your dog good with distractions, is to practice with distractions!”
There it is! That’s the secret!
So, again, the key is get your dog perfect on his own, then SLOWLY phase in one distraction at a time. Do not get your dog great on his own, and then take him to a place with 50 dogs and 50 people (dog parks, etc) and expect them to be just as good, it’s not going to happen.
If you get your dog in a good obedience training program like ours in Northern Virginia with a qualified trainer, they should be performing obedience with distractions in a very short amount of time.