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Puppy only interested in environment / extremely distracted

2878 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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Breathe. Breathe again. It will be ok. I had a distracted poodle puppy. She was nothing like all of the other puppies in class. A super ball in a room full of marbles. Noelle stood out and I thought I was the worst dog trainer.

To help you dog learn to pay attention... Stop trying to get your dog's attention. Just go outside, with your dog on a leash, and a pocket full of very tasty things. Hang out on a chair and watch your puppy. Sniff here, sniff there, look here, race there, just wait. Do nothing. Say nothing. Wait for the puppy to notice you. The instant your puppy notices you, become the fun machine. Treats, praise, love, affection. Puppy turns away, you become silent and wait.

You might wait a long long time. Wait for your dog to make contact and praise and treat and praise and treat as long as the puppy is paying attention. First few check-ins take a long time. By the fifth check-in, you'll notice the interval getting shorter. And shorter, and eventually your puppy will check in with you every few seconds.

If you push, and prod, and insist, and make weird noises, and do things to get your dog's attention, you will slow this process to a crawl. Make it the puppy's choice and you will see your puppy choose to connect with you. When you step outside, your puppy is like a five-year-old in Disneyland. Everything is attractive and interesting. Your puppy has not learned yet that YOU are the most interesting thing out there. This exercise will teach your puppy that you are valuable. http://www.mwbcr.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/Auto-Check-In.pdf This is one of the most useful skills to train a dog. More useful than sit. Everything else will flow from this starting point.

Once you have the puppy choosing you out of all the distractions in the environment, you'll be able to use that to play hide and seek behind trees. And make a huge deal out of the puppy finding you. When your puppy chooses you out of all the other things in the environment to interact with, that's worthy of a celebration. If you celebrate those choices, you'll be off to a great start.
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