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Puppy only interested in environment / extremely distracted

2886 Views 18 Replies 14 Participants Last post by  kontiki
I just got my standard poodle puppy 10 days ago at 8 weeks old. We are doing great with potty training and getting better on biting etc. We have enrolled in puppy class and so far have had one private session with the trainer and one regular puppy class (just yesterday). The breeder has advised strongly to only feed his kibble, no treats, as he has had trouble with dogs refusing food / almost starving themselves in the past (I think this concerned the mother and his sister from another litter).

I am worried about him being extremely distracted basically as soon as we leave the house, even for potty breaks in the yard. His nose is on the ground sniffing constantly and I am having a really hard time catching his attention at all. Obviously there was no chance of him focusing on me in puppy class. The trainer strongly advised to give higher value treats but had no other recommendations.

Do you have any recommendations on what I should try? This is my first dog, and I specifically wished for an easy to train puppy from the breeder :-(. I have read lots of books to prepare before he arrived, but none of them say what to do if the puppy refuses to pay any attention at all. I am trying my best but scared that he will grow up to be very badly behaved. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

PS: please excuse my english, it is not my first language :)
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I have very few expectations for young puppies actually learning. I want puppies to be exposed to a ton of sights and sounds in a positive way while they are still little sponges open to socialization, and learn to find me valuable when offleash outside. I like to disappear out of sight when my puppy isn't watching. It causes a bit of stress and teaches them to pay attention to where I am and follow me while they are still at the stage where they are afraid to be left alone. Plus I work on recall. Lots of sniffing and exploring and teaching puppy to jump on things and go over and under etc.

Housetraining, sit, down, stay, good leash walking, etc are bonuses, not focuses for me with a young puppy. Plenty of time when puppy has a bit more attention span to learn those things. I have taught adult dogs sit and down in a single session, and housetrained adult dogs in 2 days. Puppies take longer, and that's normal.

I also came from herding breeds and found my poodle highly distractable. 30 s sessions were far more helpful than 30 min sessions. I noticed I would come back the day after trying to teach something, absolutely frustrated because my puppy didn't understand, and she'd do it perfectly the first time the next day. It was like she needed to sleep on it, not more repetitions.

Handfeeding can also be good for bond building.

If you haven't seen it yet, I highly recommend this thread and Dr. Sophia Yin's socialization checklist there.


Oh - and pictures, please?
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