Training a dog can be an amazingly joyful or an unbelievably frustrating use of your time. What separates these two experiences is one thing and only one thing and that is your dog’s immunity to distractions.
Truth. The biggest saboteur working against reaching your goals in dog training is how attracted your dog is to the distractions in his environment. These distractions are nothing more than expressions of your dog’s drives and arousal states.
Depending upon the individual drives of the dog’s distraction can take on many different forms. His attention could be diverted by a sudden movement, an exciting noise, an intriguing scent or the existence of higher value reinforcement elsewhere in the environment.
A dog training program rich in reinforcement is the best pathway to help create immunity to all that may distract a dog. The lower the quality of dog training education…the less resistance a dog is given to the power of distraction!
Take for example a completely uneducated “pet owner.” This is the person who has done absolutely nothing to contribute in a positive way to his dog’s education. He believes dogs should just understand his spoken word as if the animal is nothing more than a furry little creature born with a deep desire to do all that their humans ask of him.
Now, this dog has absolutely no immunity to distractions. In his own house, he is overly aroused by company, will knock them over with his greeting or frantically shove his nose up their backside. The dog pulls his owner on his daily walks, bolting off with his nose down frantically charging after every scent he catches or bounces and barks wildly as another dog passes by across the street. Of course, you can imagine what the dog is like at a park with squirrels, other dogs, kids on bikes or water nearby. No immunity to any distraction whatsoever.
Just like a virus, a low dose of controlled exposure to a pathogen will help us to develop an immunity. That is what good dog training does for our dogs. That is what a great “working relationship” gives us. It gives us a dog that has become immune to any distraction in his environment. He only has eyes for you and his work. We would never take a new rescue dog or a wee puppy to a bunny farm and expect him to keep focus for us, would we? But with a great working relationship, anything is possible and nothing is a distraction.
Over my more than 20 years of training my dogs and helping others to achieve amazing results with their dogs, I have developed a progressive training plan that helps to build a dog’s immunity to distractions one layer at a time. Fifteen years ago I put those foundation layers into a chart I called my “Puppy Pyramid.” If you look to the left of this paragraph, you can see what it looked like all of those years ago. Of course as more dogs came into my life, that pyramid evolved but the basis was the same. Laying down layers of understanding, to help my dogs become resistant to any type of distraction. Each segment in the pyramid is a game. Often an interactive game of choice for my dogs. Several years ago I strategically arranged those games to become what is now my Recallers program. Today those Recallers games are the foundation of every dog owned. These 40 Recallers Games build in 40 foundation layers for my dogs preparing them to start learning their skills for life and for sport.
There is a synergy between those 40 Recaller Games and the rest of the skills my dogs are taught. This synergistic relationship is what creates the amazing immunity against distractions that these dogs develop. In work, out on a walk or romping in the fields. My dogs are constantly aware of what I am doing and what I expect from them. All attained through those 40 layers of Recaller games, followed by layers and layers of skill-building games.
That is why students who have taken my Recallers course have gone through such an amazing transformation with their dog training. The program creates an unbelievable inoculation against distractions. Resulting in a dog with an amazing focus for work, an incredible relationship between dog and handler, a bond formed through games and reinforcement based training. If you have that now, you will know exactly what I mean.
Watch some of our students’ incredible transformations: Click Here to for Recallers Videos