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Categories: Basic Obedience

Q. My dog is overly friendly and wants to say hi to everyone she sees. I want to compete in obedience with her, how many times a day should I work on engagement to see a difference in her behavior?
Hi,

My almost 2 year old dog is very friendly. We are working on competition obedience and I plan on doing our first competition soon. The problem with her being too friendly is that she wants to say hi to everybody she sees. I have been watching "The Power of Training Dogs with Food" and "Focused Heeling." She is doing great when it's just me or when we are working with our trainer, but as soon as there are more people and dogs she looses focus. How many times a day should I be working on engagement and how long should those sessions last for us to see a difference in her attention when we are around more people? Also, do you have other ideas on how I can get her to be more focused on me and not trying to meet every single person she sees (I don't allow her to meet everybody she wants to see)?

A. Hi,

I can't really know how many times a day or how long the sessions should be to work on engagement, but if I was having the problem of my dog losing focus I'd probably ONLY work on engagement for a while and put the competitive plans on hold. No formal obedience exercises right now. If your dog can't remain engaged with you with other dogs and people around you are getting ahead of yourself in training. A dog trial would be a bad idea at this point.

You may need to use higher value rewards or to deliver those rewards more dynamically. Your dog should value being with you over anything in the environment (people, dogs, etc). I'd highly recommend the video Advanced Concepts in Motivation.

I also would not allow her to meet and greet other people and dogs, there is no need for her to do this. She should have a leash on at all times if you worry about her leaving you.

If your dog is toy driven I'd recommend The Power of Playing Tug with your Dog. Sometimes a dog will remain engaged for a toy over food, if they have a strong desire to play.

Cindy Rhodes
  
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