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High distraction environments - Puppy Training

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By Sue Williams Bsc, GODT(MT), MCFBA, Chairwoman Guild of Dog Trainers 30 September 2015

One of my goals is for Kali to be successful member of The Cheshire Dog Display Team and Shadow Quest working Dog Display Team. Getting her when I did has been advantageous to me as it has meant that she has been able to accompany me to some of this seasons displays. I do displays with both my dog and llama teams and it involves most weekends during the summer. The displays are at agricultural shows, Game fairs and other large events. These have presented me with a perfect opportunity to socialise her with lots of people, dogs and animals. It has also has allowed me to habitulise her to this type of environment. Working a dog in the display requires a lot of skill. One of the most important but hardest skills is to get your dog focus on you amidst a huge range of high distractions.

By taking Kali to the shows I have made sure she is confident in the environment and I have also used the opportunity to interact, play and train her in this high distraction environment. Whilst at the Dorset County Show I used a Gopro camera and filmed Kali walking around the show ground. The footage from Kali-cam is awesome and really gives an insight into how she sees the world and how different her view is from mine. This weeks film shows some short clips from this, Im sure like me you will find it an eye opener.

This week was an important week for Kali as she finally met the lovely people from Natural Instinct, who are sponsoring her and this blog. I’m sure she knew how kind all everyone has been to her as she lavishly gave out puppy kisses!

It was also real test, as after an initial meeting at the Kennel Club building at Stoneleigh, we were to go to a hotel to continue our discussions. I knew this was going to involve Kali being on her best behaviour so she did not disrupt either our meeting or the other hotel customers – a big ask for a 13 week old pup!

One of the things I have been teaching Kali since she arrived is to ‘settle’. This is a really useful exercise to teach your puppy and can be useful in lots of situations. In the early stages of training this has been for literally seconds and I have gradually built on this so she is happy to ‘settle’ for longer periods of time. I started teaching Kali at home whilst watching TV with her on a lead. I always give her something of high value to keep her occupied. I use either a Kong filled with her Natural Instinct puppy food or one of Natural instincts play bones. Once she was getting the idea of what to do I moved location to different places such as cafes. This ensures she learns to settle with distractions.

Well, all my training and preparation paid off J   Kali surpassed my expectations and settled, happily tucking into her play bone for a couple of hours, meaning I could concentrate on our meeting- I was definitely a very happy owner.

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