How to Train Your Small Dog to Come With Distractions

Medium
2-12 Weeks
Behavior

Introduction

Your little dog knows 'come'. You know this. You’ve spent so much time working on it, along with all the other basics like 'down' and 'sit'. When you call, your little dog comes running like hearing her name is the best thing that could happen. You’re not worried about bringing your little dog to the park for the first time.When you are ready to go home, you are so embarrassed to have to chase your very quick little dog all over. Anyone would think she had never been called to come in her life! All those longs hours of training... wasted.

Your training isn’t wasted, and although it seems like your little dog has forgotten everything, really she hasn’t. It’s just that with distractions, it is so much more difficult for your little dog to obey. This may be because she hasn’t yet developed the self-control to overcome her impulses, or it may be because your dog doesn’t understand your command in this new setting of a park, or it could be because your little dog is testing what she can get away with.

Defining Tasks

Little dogs that are bred to follow their nose or chase down game, like Dachshunds and Yorkshire terriers, may have a harder time dealing with distractions than little dogs bred to be companions. It will take a lot of patience to train your little dog to come no matter what, and having your little friend run off on you can be extremely frustrating. There is no point in losing your temper though. Your little dog is not refusing to come because she doesn’t love you, but because of many factors beyond her control. Work gradually with your little dog while using external controls like barriers and long leashes to keep everyone safe.

Getting Started

Training your little dog to come with distractions is similar to training her to come without distractions. You need something to motivate your little dog, like treats, toys, and of course, your affection. If your little dog is already coming without distractions, you already know what your little dog likes best. Bring these same tools to the distraction training.

Some additional tools are great in teaching your little dog to come even with distractions. A distinct attention getter, like a whistle or horn, can cut through distractions. Long lines with some elasticity are useful both for having control of your little dog and for nudging her into paying attention. An elastic line is good because it prevents a sharp pull to your little dog’s delicate body. If your little dog is really struggling to break out of their focus on other things, an electronic collar can be a useful tool for getting their attention.

The Look for Me Method

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Step
1
Find a safe place
Choose a dog park or house that has places for you to hide, and a fence from which you can leave. Make sure there are no holes or gaps where your little dog can squeeze through.
Step
2
Lots of distractions
Make sure there are distractions for your little dog to become immersed in. Wait for your dog to wander off and become interested in something.
Step
3
Call your little dog
Call your dog and if she comes, reward her and let her wander off again. When she doesn’t come, move onto the next step.
Step
4
Hide
Make sure your little dog isn’t looking and go hide. It may take awhile for her to come looking so be patient. When she finds you, reward her enthusiastically and go back with her. Wait some time and practice again. If she doesn’t come after a half hour or more, move onto the next step.
Step
5
Pretend to leave
Call your little dog. If she ignores you, pretend to leave. Make a show of leaving, even start your car. Your little dog should come running. When she does, reward her enthusiastically.
Step
6
Practice
Practice over and over in many different situations, until your dog learns that it is her responsibility keep track of you and come when you call so she doesn’t lose you.
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The Long Line Method

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Step
1
Safety first
Use a secure harness so that your little dog won’t be injured. The leash should be elastic, to protect your little dog from sudden jolts.
Step
2
Range
Let your little dog range out from you. Follow her discreetly, being careful that the line doesn’t get hung up on anything. It may take your little dog some time to get used to the feel of the line following her.
Step
3
Call your dog
When she has taken a good bit of the line, take up all slack without actually pulling on your little dog at all, and call her. If she comes, reward her enthusiastically. If she doesn’t, move on to the next step.
Step
4
Get your dog’s attention
If your little dog doesn’t come when you call, give one firm pull on the line while calling again. The pull should be just enough to jostle her and get her attention. If she still doesn’t come, call and pull a little harder, until she starts coming to you.
Step
5
Praise the return
Praise your little dog enthusiastically as she returns to you. She may be sheepish, knowing she should have come, or she may seem reluctant. No matter what, be enthusiastic and shower your little dog with praise all the way back to you and rewards when she gets to you.
Step
6
Practice
Keep practicing in different situations. When you feel confident, remove the line. If your little dog doesn’t respond, put the line back on. Soon she will have practiced enough to have built the self-control to come no matter the distractions.
Recommend training method?

The Electronic Collar Method

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Step
1
Treat your little dog as you would yourself
A good rule of thumb with training tools is to never do anything to your dog that you wouldn’t do to yourself. Try the electronic collar on your own arm and experiment with the vibration settings so you appreciate how much stimulus each setting conducts. Appreciate how much smaller your dog is than you. You may need a custom collar made for small dogs, and you should never need to use more than the lowest static settings. Most small dogs respond sufficiently to the tone and vibration setting.
Step
2
Find a safe place
The electronic collar is not the same as a leash. Your little dog may still refuse to come. Practice somewhere contained by fencing until you are very confident.
Step
3
Call your dog
Call your little dog. If she comes, reward her enthusiastically and let her wander off again. If she doesn’t, move onto the next step.
Step
4
Get your dog’s attention
Use the collar's tone while calling your dog again. She should look up, startled by the sound. If she doesn’t, use the vibration. If she still shows no response, try holding the vibration and then going up to level one if still no response.
Step
5
Call and reward when you get a response
Call your little dog again in a happy and enthusiastic way, clapping and acting crazy. Your dog should forget the weird feeling or noise, along with whatever she was sniffing, and come running.
Step
6
Practice
Keep practicing. Your little dog may get to a place where just the call or whistle can get her attention, or she may always need the reminder of the electronic collar to break her focus on whatever she is looking at. If that’s the case, and you have a hunting breed little dog, appreciate the hunter in your dog and just utilize the electronic collar as needed for safety throughout your little dog’s life
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Success Stories and Training Questions

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