Dear Paws: I’ve tried to work in obedience training with my puppy, “Spaetzle,” during her morning and evening walks, because I read somewhere that this is the most efficient way to do it. But she doesn’t seem to pay attention and I feel like we’re not getting very far. Am I doing something wrong? – Don in Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Dear Don: It’s not that you’re doing anything wrong, it’s that maybe training during walks isn’t right for Spaetzle.
Observe your dog throughout the day for a few days. Are there times when she appears to be more receptive to your commands? More responsive? Are there times when she is really hyper and times when she is very relaxed?
Take note of these behaviors and the time of day when they seem more common. Then, adjust your behavior training to take place during these different times and see how she responds.
Some dogs are extremely focused on certain core tasks – like, “hey, it’s time to eat. I’m pretty sure it’s time to feed me. I need to eat. I can’t think of anything else until you feed me!” Or, when Spaetzle is out for her walk, she’s focused on finding the perfect places to pee or poop. That’s where her attention is going. So more complex commands may go right past her.
You can work on simpler behavioral training and commands throughout the day. During walks, of course, is the best time to train her to heel, sit and stay – but after she’s relieved herself. At treat times, teach a command before giving a treat. Teach commands when the opportunity presents itself. Most of all, be patient and encourage her, always.
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Originally published July 25, 2016, via King Features Weekly Syndicate.