Monday, June 3, 2013

Working with Distractions

It is important for my dogs to learn to respond to cues even when in the presence of distractions. I try to carefully and deliberately add distractions in a way that ensure my dog will be successful. I don't start adding distractions until I am certain that my dog is fluent in the behavior in a particular setting.  The distraction starts out as something small and easily controlled by me (for example, a piece of cheese off to the side).  Once my dog is able to handle this small distraction, I will gradually increase the amount of distraction.  When I do change the setting and ask for the behavior in a new environment, I start with no additional distractions.  Once the behavior is fluent in the new setting, I add distraction.

The caveat is the way I use food in this video.  Sometimes Tanner finds the environment more distracting than I had anticipated. In this case, I can put a piece of food on the ground and ask him to work around it. The food is a very close distraction that he is familiar with. He will focus on this distraction (as opposed to the environment) and work willingly around it as he does in this video. You can see that he knows the food is there and he wants to eat it but chooses not to. He is not ready to take this behavior with this amount of distraction to a new setting.  

The other advantage of using food as a distraction like this is that it mimics finding food on the ground when we are out and about.  When he sees a piece of food on the ground he gives me attention as a way of asking for the food rather than just lunging after it.  

Here is a video where I add some pieces of cheese on the ground and ask Tanner to work over them.



Anonymous said...

What a good Tanner!!!


Greyhounds CAN Sit said...

What a good boy!