How do I get my dog motivated to work with me?
Motivation is key to dog training but some dogs can struggle with motivation or are very easily distracted by the smallest things when they are working with you.
When you have dedicated time to train with your dog and they cannot focus it can be incredibly frustrating and can lead to you being discouraged to keep going on your dog’s training journey!
However, do not despair! It is completely normal for a dog to have an attention span and some dogs really struggle to focus. It is especially hard during adolescence. It is important to remember your dog may be having a bad day.
Look at what your dog is getting distracted by and if it is something that you can change.
Elements you can look at are:
· Presence of other people or other dogs.
· Wildlife or scent of wildlife.
· Scents in general.
· Treat value.
· Toy value.
· Does the dog fully understand what the cue means?
There are easy focus games to play to set your training up for success. One I find is fun is saying your dog’s name and instantly rewarding the dog, then repeating five or six times to get them to be engaged. Then add in cues the dog already knows building up the foundations of learning.
Focus is key. Once you have your dog’s focus they are much more likely to listen to cues.
Set your dog up for success. It may be easier for your dog to work in the home environment first, building up the difficulty slowly. Be consistent with conditioning cues and what they mean to the dog and what you are expecting from the dog when you say them.
Keep sessions short; I find ten to fifteen-minute sessions are optimum, and focus on one or two skills in that session and build each session for the dog as they progress.
Some dogs and people can find it overwhelming when first starting out with training as there is so much to teach, but by prioritising it will help it to be more structured and will help your sessions flow better with your dog.
If your dog is still struggling with motivation, they may need a break or an opportunity to explore their environment before starting. It can take a bit of trial and error to find out what your dog likes to work for but watching what they choose to interact with can give you information as to what they are motivated by it may take a little out of the box thinking!