We believe that it is super important to get your dog socialized to as many locations as you can throughout your training. Taking field trips to different locations exposes your dog to the sights and sounds of the world that they may encounter on their daily life, and sets them up for success as they grow.
Though you won’t get the benefit of working with a group of other dogs/handlers, or having an instructor lead you, you can create your own do-it-your-self Bootcamp, just like our own Bootcamp Class, and here’s how.
If your dog hasn’t learned the basics yet, start them in your home under low distraction. This is to be fair to your dog, help them concentrate while learning and set them up for success. Once reliable inside, you can start to head outdoors.
Pick a new location each week for four or five weeks to work with your dog (and if you can, do it three times during that particular week). Scout the location ahead of time so that you can gauge distraction levels and accessibility. I suggest starting in a park or parking lot, away from heavy distraction
Start on a warm up with simple exercises such as sit, down or come. Be sure to incorporate heeling work and engagement after your warm up. As you work, and your dog is doing well, head closer to some distraction. This will give you an idea on how far away you need to be from whatever distracts your dog, to keep their attention. The goal, over a period of time, is to close the gap between distraction and your dog.
On your next outing, head to another park, with different distractions. Warm your dog up with simple, easy to follow exercises. If you have one, bring a long leash (15-30 feet) and work some stays and distance recalls. If you are using a long leash, always do so safely, being sure not to head too close to a road, or too close to other people/dogs. Note the distance from the distraction that you start at and that you finish at.
On your next outing, pick a heavier traffic location, like a plaza, and work with your dog on accepting foot traffic, car traffic, different sights and sounds. Be prepared to help your dog if they show any fear, buy creating distance, and rewarding for calm. Warm up, then work heeling, sits, downs, stays and overall calm around distraction. Engage your dog, be the reward. Create distance from distraction where needed. Make learning fun. Note your dogs behaviour around these higher distractions. Was it easy or hard? Were they nervous or confident? Did it take long for them to settle into training or did they do it quickly?
On your next excursion, try to get to a different area for a walk. During the walk in the new area work on things such as heeling, focus, sits, engagement or whatever you think you can add to that. Short and long leash recalls and stays at any safe open places that you stop at. If you have the opportunity, have your dog place on some rocks or other raised surfaces, weave objects while you heel, jump over things and work on anything that might be different surfaces that is safe. Note how engaged your dog is at the beginning, middle and end. Note any anxieties or issues that come up.
Finally pick another busy location such as down town, or a different plaza. Warm your dog up with some simple exercises, then work heeling, simple sits, some stays, short leash recalls and focus. Utilize focus and attention when passing people. Use a sit with reward for calm when other dogs pass. Pay your dog for good behaviour in busy areas. Note again how engaged your dog is at the beginning, middle and end. Note any anxieties or issues that come up.
Review the progress that your dog has made over this time. What is there level of engagement and focus like? How well do they respond to commands? Is there confidence up? Are they able to calm in busy areas where needed? If needed, start back at step one as many times as you like. The more you do this, the better your dog will get working in and around distraction.
And there you have it, your very own do-it-yourself Bootcamp Class! Have fun, be consistent, be fair, be the reward, enjoy the process. Happy training!
Dog and puppy training, dog obedience, dog behaviour training in Milton, Ontario