How to get focus and response from your dog in any environment.
This is not hard to do. You just have to do it! If you do this with young puppies and continue to do it throughout their development, you will have a confident dog who can go anywhere with you.
Every town has quiet parks and quiet parking lots behind businesses that are perfect for Park and Train. Identify 3 or 4 or these locations in your area. There can be some activity in the distance but nothing close by.
Have your training gear ready. Treats, treat bag, clicker, any props like a mat or platforms that you may want to use. Have a bowl and a bottle of water for your dog.
Go to location number one. Find a perfect spot. Leash up your dog and let him out of the car. Let him look around and sniff for a minute or two, no more. Don’t say anything. He will be really distracted.
After two minutes, shorten up your leash so the dog really can’t go anywhere and wait. You are waiting for the dog to look up at you. We call this “engagement”. It is a small signal that tells us that the dog is now in the right frame of mind to work. It is like a start button. You may have to wait quite awhile in the beginning. Resist the urge to help the dog. This has to be the dog’s decision.
As soon as the dog looks up, CLICK and toss or feed a treat. Now cue a “sit” or “hand touch” or any other really easy behavior that the dog knows.
Stay here for five minutes working on these simple behaviors. Stop. Load the dog back into the car and go to the next location. Rinse and repeat.
If you start doing this routine regularly you will see that the dog starts to check in with you more and more quickly. They can focus for longer periods. Once the dog is really good at focusing without distraction you can begin to increase the distraction gradually.
Dogs have no way of learning about the world unless we teach them. Park and Train is the perfect way to do this.