Saturday, 15 August 2009

Mia, Focus and the reactive dog

About time I did some more training posts.

As everyone who has been following knows Mia is a little reactive and so very easily distracted.

I have been working on focus with her using a method I have stolen and adapted from many different trainers.

Mia is not very good in confined spaces - she is always looking for ways to get out. I am lucky and have found a park that has a large field down a slope where the other dog walkers dont tend to go. It is pretty secure but because of the slope it dosent look like it has boundries so Mia is calm enough to play around in it.

First what I do is to just send both the dogs away to play and I wonder about. Any time Mia gets anywhere near to me I chuck her a treat and then just carry on walking about.
After a short while she actually starts comming over to me looking for a treat so each time I wait for a little more before I treat, at first it is just her being close enough to chuck the treat, then its her actually noticing me, then her getting closer to me. Basically I shape it until she is running right up to my side, giving good eye contact and walking with me. Each time I treat then I send her away with big arm movments and say 'GO PLAY'
Once she is really begining to focus on me and wants to work then I will ask for a few tricks - rewarding lots and lots before sending her away to play again. I always send her away before she gets few up and runs away - this means that I have to pay attention to stuff around us that might distract her and send her away before she gets distracted.
After a while of this both dogs really dont want to be sent away but really want to work with me

At the moment this is about where we end it - but hopefully soon I will get the agility stuff down the park, that level of focus would be just great for training.

It is also teaching Mia a habbit of checking in with me just incase fun stuff happens - and a command for to go away and have fun. I like dogs to be dogs and sniff around and stuff, but because of Mias reactivity problems everything has to be a little more structured with her.

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