Updated: Oct 30, 2018
You're on a walk with your dog and someone with their dog is coming towards you down the sidewalk... Does your dog begin to pull to get to the other dog and ignore your pleas to heel or to leave it?
Your dog is playing with another dog and it's time to take a break. Does your dog ignore you calling him and refuse to come to you?
This is a very common concern I hear from people with their puppies and adult dogs. The key is teaching your dog that you are more important and more valuable than anything in the environment. How do we begin to teach this?
Introducing the "END ALL BE ALL" game!
Start with your dog in front of you either sitting or standing, whichever they prefer. I like to do this on leash so your dog can't walk away from training. Without saying anything wait for your dog to begin to turn his head to look at you and mark the turning of the head towards you with a "Yes" or a clicker. Reward with food or a toy AND be very excited in your praise and play with your dog. HAVE A PARTY! Give your dog a release cue (release, free, done or break) and let them pay attention to the area/room/people, etc in the environment and repeat. In the beginning, it may take a bit for your dog to turn back to you - BE PATIENT AND BE QUIET. The choice needs to be your dog's to choose to engage with you.
The more he does this, the more he is rewarded with either food or a toy AND your excited praise and play and a party!
Pretty soon your dog won't want to look back to the environment but will only want to focus on your because you are becoming higher value. Play this game in your house in the beginning, then as your dog gets better at this, change the location slowly adding in the distractions.
Remember to HAVE A PARTY with your dog! Teach your dog that engaging with you is rewardable, fun and that you are the end all be all!