Want more focus from your dog? Try this nifty training exercise.
Many of the clients I work with struggle with one major factor which has an overall effect on the behaviour issues they are encountering with their dog. A lack of response or focus from their dog which makes training them extremely difficult, which in turn feeds into the relationship breakdown between owner and dog. Many of the dogs I see do not even realise their owner is at the end of the lead! So it is no wonder then, that many of the owners I see are struggling to gain a response from their dog. This can be highly frustrating and can put huge barriers in the way when it comes to training. Basic training is affected by this, so you can imagine why it is so hard to train a reactive dog which also has this problem.
There is one simple thing you can do every time you go out with your dog, and that is to practice some simple "check-ins".
So what is a 'check-in'?
A 'check-in' is when your dog takes his mind away from the environment and looks in your direction. This is a really easy, simple exercise, but is massively effective at building a stronger response from your dog when it is required.
How to train it? Whilst walking your dog stop and wait. Do not call your dog or encourage him in any way to look in your direction (this has to be his choice, this makes it highly powerful). just stand still, loose lead if possible, and whether it takes 1 minute or 5 minutes at some point your dog will look around in your direction. At that exact moment, you are going to give a nice high pitched "good dog", and give him a lovely tasty reward for doing so.
Repeat this several times, randomly throughout the walk. Every time reinforce the behaviour with vocal praise and food reward.
As the training develops you will notice at some point your dog starts to 'check-in' more regularly, even in those environments where you previously found it hard to get his focus.
Implement this every day and make it part of your routine. Start off in low stimulating environments and slowly build it up to more distractive environments.
Before you know it, your dog will be more responsive and focused on you. Result!