Train Your Dog to Sit and Ignore a Distraction

Published in Uncategorized on 21st June 2019
Train Your Dog to Sit and Ignore a Distraction

Today we’re going to learn a simple technique for teaching our dog to sit on command. To sit while walking in the heel position or just a general “let’s go”. So, essentially, what we want your dog to do is to sit once you’ve come to a halt. We don’t want to actually have to tell our dog to sit, but for this to be his automatic response when I stop walking. The other thing we’re going to be working on today is a recall with a distraction. I guess it’s been dubbed the “smart dog recall”, but, essentially, our dog will be on one side and I’ll be on the other. I will give him the command “front”, and after that he will have to come and avoid the distraction, in this case, a piece of meat. We’ll also be working on dropping some food in front of your dog, and having him leave it without the actual command. This is to reinforce that treats actually come from me giving it from hand and not to found lying on the floor.

So, the first skill we’re gonna work on is actually walking and working on the automatic sit when we stop. So, you don’t want to always sit your dog with a command while you’re walking. You want to just try to build it to where he’s doing it automatically. So, we’ve been working on this for awhile. So, this is more like a review, but this is essentially how you teach this skill. Initially, you’re actually gonna give the command to sit to your dog, unless they automatically do it, in which case just provide praise and encourage them to continue to do that behavior. Walking and… Yes! Good sit. Good boy. Very good puppy. Okay, heel. We’re walking, we’re walking, and yes! Now, in the beginning it’s okay if he’s not sitting exactly beside you. Of course, we want to get him sitting in the heel position. But right now we’re just working on the automatic sit. So you will tell your dog to heel. And if he does what I want I reward him with praise and a treat. that’s what we want to see. We want to see him stop automatically and sit. Heel. And sit.

Good job. Now he is a little bit out in front of me right now, that’s really not what we’re focusing on. Of course, I don’t want that, but right now I’m just focusing on when I stop, he sits. Heel. Yes! Perfect. That was really good. That was really good, boy. Very good pup. If your dog is not doing this, if we backed it up a few steps, here’s how you would train him. Come on, boy. Sit. You’ll give him a second to give you a default sit, but if that’s not what they automatically go to, you could actually put them in the s-i-t position. Heel. Sit. Yes! Good boy. Now, he automatically does this, so it would’ve been better to have him do this during the beginning stages, ’cause he’s like “what are you reaching over here for?” “I’m putting my butt down.” But that’s essentially what you would do.

You would give him that command, possibly a little bit short to let them know that you want a sense of urgency about it, and just continue to drill that. Just do this drill all the time. Heel. Yes! Good sit. Good boy. Very good. Very good dog. Alright, so what we’re going to do right now we’re just going to actually work on a few distractions. We’re going to drop some food in front of our pup, and I’m gonna reach down and pick it up. Look at me. Look. Stay. He can watch it go down, but he needs to leave it. Stay. Okay! Good boy. Good job. Very good. Very good puppy. Now that’s really hard for them to do when the food’s right there in their faces. He’s going to want to naturally go after it, but we’re just going to keep working on this skill. So, I’m going to drop some food in front of him, bend down and pick it up, which is very distracting for him, and then release him, and only then, will I give him a treat. And not necessarily the treat that I dropped on the ground. We’ve got a real world distraction going on here at this point.

Actually, there’s a dog’s neighbor, or rather a neighbor’s dog across the street that’s barking right now that’s really distracting him, so, you know, sometimes it’s actually good to train with real world distractions, but let’s see if we can hold his focus here. Okay boy, stay. Drop a piece of food on the ground. And another one. And another one. He watched it drop. Stay. Bend down and pick it up, which is on his level. Okay! And I release him. Good job. Very good pup. And I’m going to reward him with a treat. And we’ll just continue to work on that re-enforcing what we’ve previously done until eventually he’s not as reactive with the food dropping in front of him.

And now I’m going to drop the food in front of him. He’s watching it, but staying where he is. Bend down and pick it up. He’s watching it. Okay! Very good. Very good puppy. That was so good, Pup. That was very hard for you. That was really hard, wasn’t it? Treats come from my hand. Or however you give your dog your treats, but essentially they do not come from the floor. Alright, good boy. Alright, so the next skill that we’re going to work on is actually a recall with distraction, AKA the “smart dog recall”. Essentially, what I’m going to do is I’m going to have Pup come to me in the front position, while avoiding the, well in this case we’ll be using the meat, that’s to his side. Eventually, the obstacle, the smart dog, the treat, the meat, will be directly in between him and myself, and he’ll have to come straight to me, avoiding the distraction. So, to train this we’re just going to start off with the treat just slightly in front of me, not extremely, you know, we’re trying to set him up for success initially, and then slowly build upon it.

Alright, so the first thing we’re going to do is work on this skill, first we’re going to remind our dog of what the “front” command is. And then we’re going to do the recall drill with the distraction slightly between he and I. Wait. Pup, front. Yes. Good boy. Front. Yes. Very Good. Very good boy. So what I’m doing is, I’m going to start off very close to him, and I’m going to put the distraction somewhere a distance away and just tell him to come to me.

Okay Pup, come. Yes! Very good. And he left that alone. Sit. Good boy! Very good puppy. Good job. Good boy. Good job. Very good. Okay. I’m going to place the distraction just slightly to my right and then have him recall to me. Here Pup, come. Pup, come. Good. So, one thing I will say about the training that we did today is that this is a really hard thing to teach your dog. Pup was initially really, really distracted by that piece of meat.

In fact, even as a trainer, I was focusing so much on trying to get him to do the behavior that I even gave him the wrong command. So, I was trying to establish this by giving him the front command, and I actually just told him to “come”. And then he still became infatuated with the meat and didn’t want to actually turn away from it. So, we’re actually going to back this up a few steps, I’ll get closer, and just get him focusing on me.

So there you have it, if you are patient and consistent and gently re-enforce these training techniques it won’t be long before you’re having the kind of success you’re looking for!