When running agility courses with your dog, ideally he is completely focused on performing obstacles and being a part of Your Team. If you are not there yet, here are a few tips on how you can help your dog overcome distractions.
OneMind Dogs Instructor Shari King has been working with her young Sheltie Aero, who was struggling when faced with distractions in the agility ring.
Q: Tell us about the issues you and Aero were facing.
A: Aero was very distracted by both people and dogs when running agility. He would stop running with me and go to visit the ring crew or run along the barrier at the front of the ring.
Q: What did you do to help him?
A: I put visiting people on command after he offered a sit and was focused on me. I did a lot of work in every distracting environment I could get to.
We played simple training games to help Aero learn to focus on me around distractions. While performing the training games, I had friends distract him, and I called him back to me for a big reward.
OneMind Dogs Coach Jessica Ajoux suggested I get some animated toys to use when training alone. I used distracting toys and food he had to learn to work around while doing agility.
Here’s a video of Shari teaching Aero to stay focused in the weaves by incorporating distracting toys, like we suggest in the OneMind Dogs Weave Distraction Training:
Q: How are things going for you two now?
A: Things are going much better. He's still not 100% focused on me, but he has made vast improvements. Aero is now in Masters' agility, and he is getting better every trial. I'm still continuing to make training harder for him with distractions, especially since I train alone a lot. As frustrating as these tough dogs are, the hard work really pays off.