The 3 Most Important Key Elements in Dog Training: Distraction, Duration and Distance01 Feb

The 3 Most Important Key Elements in Dog Training: Distraction, Duration and Distance

Best Tips for Using Distractions, Duration and Distance Effectively in Dog Training

What are the 3 D’s in Dog training? The 3D’s are the key to teaching your dog anything new: distraction, duration, and distance. Whether you’re training your dog to stay, leave it, wait, heel on leash, you name it, the triple D’s will have an effect on your results. If you plan your dog training sessions with the 3D’s in mind, you can train your dog faster, and have longer lasting results

So what are they? the 3D’s of dog training are DISTANCE, DISTRACTIONS and DURATION. Distance is the distance between the dog and handler, or distance between the dog and distractions. The further away your dog is from you, the less likely he is to correctly respond to your commands. The closer a distraction is, the less likely he is to correctly respond to your commands. Distractions are anything your dog finds interesting, that could possibly interfere with your dog’s ability to focus on you and what you say. The intensity and number of distractions present greatly affect your dog’s ability to learn something new, or to respond correctly to your commands. Lastly, we have Duration. Duration is the amount of time required (by you) for your dog to hold a command. How long should he stay, heel, or wait? 

At Dog Dynamix, we have 5 criteria that our dog has to meet before we increase the level of the 3D’s. The dog must listen to our command and perform it correctly the first time we say it, in a normal tone of voice, in the face of distractions, without being bribed, every time. For example, most dogs are pretty responsive to the command “sit.” But does your dog meet the criteria? How about with other commands? Heel? Down? Wait?

Most dogs who haven’t been trained using the 3D principles will sit, if they’re in your kitchen, with nobody around, if you have a cookie in your hand. I would argue that dog doesn’t really know the “Sit” command. But the moment you command your dog to sit outside fo that environment, it’s a struggle. So how do we teach a puppy to sit (the first time you say it, in a normal tone of voice, anywhere)?

First you need the proper training equipment. Our mantra is never give a command that you cannot or will not enforce. Saying “Sit” to your dog, means you need a way to make it happen. Next, we need repetitions. Practice makes perfect, and we need lots of practice. As we practice, we systematically increase the difficulties of the 3D’s.

We start by making it as easy as possible for the dog to get it right. We need to eliminate or reduce the levels of Distance, Distraction, and Duration as much as possible. By example, we start teaching sit in our living room (not much distraction in the dog’s mind), with the dog right in front or next to us (no distance), and we don’t require them to hold the sit for very long. Once I can get 10 sits in a row, with zero errors, I can start to increase the levels of the 3D’s.

Start with Distraction first. You know your dog best, so it helps to make a list. On a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being the most difficult), list the most distracting things or circumstances for your dog. Start with number one on that list. Once your dog can perform a command 10 times in a row without error,  move up the list to the next distraction. Continue this process until your dog can perform the command, without error, 10 times.

Your ‘distraction’ puppy training list *might look like:

  1. In the kitchen, with me standing in front of my puppy
  2. Before opening the door to go outside, in front of my puppy
  3. While putting on a leash
  4. Before opening the front door for a walk
  5. On a walk with no one around
  6. On a walk with people/dogs in the distance
  7. In the house, with a stranger present
  8. In the house with a dog present
  9. On a walk with a stranger approaching
  10. On a walk with a dog approaching

Don’t forget about the other D’s! THEY EACH NEED THEIR OWN LIST.

Pro tip: Save Distance for last. You can keep a fair, but challenging distance from the distractions until your dog masters the list.

The next D to work on is Duration. Have your dog hold the sit for 1 second in the beginning, before you communicate to your dog he did the right thing. Then, systematically increase the Duration by increments of 5 seconds, until your dog can perform the command 10 times in a row without errors.

Now it’s time to add Distance. Follow the same process, by systematically placing your self farther from the dog, or by moving distractions closer.

If you use the 3D’s in your dog training plan, you will be amazed at how quickly you can teach your dog what you want. Whether you want to quickly control bad behaviors, teach your puppy to sit during greetings, stop pulling on the leash, or you’re raising a dog for competition, the 3D’s should be a factor in you training plan. If you need help getting there, reach out. We’re happy to help!

Happy Training!

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