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3-D Dog Training

When I’m training my dogs, I keep three key elements in mind to create brilliance in the behaviors my dogs are learning. By strategically adding duration, distance, and distraction to our lessons, we build confidence that they can perform these behaviors with complete understanding anywhere I ask. The Three D’s for Learning:

  • Duration: The length of time the dog is expected to maintain the response.
  • Distance: The distance the dog is away from you or the high value reward or distraction to perform the behavior.
  • Distraction: The dog’s distractions are what is distracting for the dog while performing what you’re asking.

 

Let’s look at how that might apply to your dog when asking for a behavior. When training anything, we start close. We can start with something easy like asking for “sit.” We start by creating clarity for our dog; for what we want them to do and when they can stop doing it. Initially, the duration is very short and we release the dog from the position of “sit” with a release cue.

I use the release cue “search,” to begin with. It gives our dog permission to break from the sit and go look for a cookie we have tossed on the ground. “The word comes before the toss of the cookie*

Duration

When you are starting to teach a new behavior, start close to your dog and keep the duration super short (make sure there are no or minimal distractions). This will help your dog be successful in the beginning to build the confidence we want. Start with just a few seconds. Then grow that time to a minute. Go back and forth with the duration, sometimes shorter, sometimes longer. When your dog is successful while you’re close, you’ve got some duration!

Distance

When you increase the distance you are away from your dog, you are creating a distraction as well. Take just one step to start but decrease the duration of the asked behavior. For example, I will ask for the behavior, take just one step, walk back immediately with no pause and reward. Then two steps, right back to reward, three steps, reward, then one step, etc. mixing it up. Once they’re comfortable with that, I may give them a release cue of “search” and start over adding a couple seconds to each repetition. Grow this to about a minute, always going back and forth with the amount of time you ask the dog to hold the behavior. When the dog can maintain the sit for about a minute, you can add a different distraction.

Distraction

The first distraction you could add might be turning your back to the dog for just a second or jumping up and down. Can they maintain the sit if you are on your knees? When you purposely add the distraction in the beginning, reduce the duration and the distance. Always work on one thing at a time. Once you’re successful, you can grow duration and then grow distance. Each time you add a new distraction, start small to grow big. Before long, you will be able to take your behaviors in other places and have success. However, make sure you have all your layers in place before you head to the woods where the squirrels are! If you add a distraction like a favorite toy or food, be sure you start with those distractions a good distance away at first.

Changing locations can hugely increase the distraction. It may be easy to get a simple behavior in a small room with no other distractions, but moving to the front porch with dogs walking by, or the backyard where the bunnies are may be too challenging for your dog. If that happens, just go back and lower your distance and duration.

Changing locations can hugely increase the distraction. It may be easy to get a simple behavior in a small room with no other distractions, but moving to the front porch with dogs walking by, or the backyard where the bunnies are may be too challenging for your dog. If that happens, just go back and lower your distance and duration.

If you ask your dog to “sit” while other dogs and/or people are around, stay close and keep the duration at a minimum. Watch your dog and release them before they want to leave. As with any new challenge, if you keep your sessions short and highly reinforcing, you will build much success for you and your dog.

Leave me a comment at delany2000@gmail.com and let me know how your 3-D dog training is going!

 

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