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Puppy Training Log Week 33: Differences in Perspective

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You can literally never do too much distraction training! Especially "dog distraction."

Halo is conflicted with her dog-distraction work. A young, friendly dog like Halo wants to immediately greet and offer appeasement behaviors ("appeasement" behaviors is anything to indicate to the other dog or person that she is harmless and non-threatening.) From her perspective, this is the most crucial thing she can and should do in this type of situation. 

From my perspective, of course, I want her to ignore the other dogs and focus on me. She understands this but her instinct makes it difficult for her. You can almost see the conflict in her eyes! Wanting to stick with me...but *needing* to go meet the other dogs!

How can we help our dogs work through things like this?

First, keep it easy. If it were not a couple of easy-going pit bulls in the yard, I wouldn't ask her to do it at all. If the neighbor dog was behaving aggressively (unfortunately, many "yard dogs" ultimately become quite aggressive but these two dogs are nice and socialized) then I would not have asked Halo to be stopping, sitting, and taking her eyes off the dog. I would have let her look at the dogs, get the information she needed, and then choose to get out of there if she wanted. The last thing you want is for your dog to have to "choose" between obedience to you and safety! Never ask for obedience unless your dog feels safe in the environment.

Secondly, patience. Yes, this was literally an entire training session where we walked back and forth over a half of a block. It takes time for dogs to really settle in and focus. If I'd just popped a treat in Halo's mouth and called it good for one tiny check-in, it would not have had the same effect as waiting for and rewarding true, 100% attention.

Finally, "repeat." After this lesson, I'd expect Halo to have good focus and attention to me around...these two other dogs. In this tiny 1/2-block section of North Portland. I'd *not* expect it to then immediately carry over to all other dogs, in all other yards, in all other places. Eventually it will carry over and be generalized to other contexts. But we're going to have to do the same sort of exercise multiple times in other locations before it does.

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