Puppies can be hyperactive and easily distracted; everything is new and exciting. Training hyperactive, distracted puppies can be frustrating, but you can accomplish the task if you give the puppy the opportunity to succeed by not asking too much of him. In addition, give him plenty of opportunities to work off excess energy; a tired dog is a good dog. By introducing some simple steps into your puppy's daily routine, training can be achieved, even if your puppy is hyperactive and easily distracted.
Exercise and socialize your puppy, exposing him to various environments, people and animals. If he is accustomed to new things, he won't react every time he encounters something novel. In addition, puppies need at least 90 minutes of vigorous exercise daily. If you tire him out, he won't be hyperactive; he'll be sleeping.
Implement a "Nothing in life is free" program; make your puppy work for everything he wants. This policy has two desired effects: it shortens training sessions to just less than a minute and it increases your puppy's motivation. For example, before you throw a ball, make your puppy sit, even if just for a second. Teach your puppy to lie down before you pet him. Make him stay until you release him when you set down his food bowl. If he doesn't, pick up the food bowl until he complies.
Train in locations that have few or no distractions. Teach a new skill in a room of your house, door closed and distractions removed. Once your puppy masters the skill in that location, move to one with more distractions. Then, move to the back yard. Then the front yard. Finally, move to the park. If your puppy ever gets too distracted to work, you're moving too fast. Go back to where he last succeeded.
Motivate your puppy by rewarding with high-grade treats in the beginning. You will need to revisit those high-value rewards each time you increase distractions. For example, when teaching a new behavior, reward your puppy with hot dogs, chicken or another exciting treat. Once he has learned the behavior, give a meaty dog treat. When he can do the behavior consistently, begin rewarding with kibble before finally phasing to praise and petting. To surprise your puppy, continue to give high-value rewards occasionally. Each time you move to a new, more distracting location, reward with the high-value treats again. As your puppy improves, you can reduce the quality of the reward and gradually fade the treat altogether.
Keep training sessions short. Practice only a minute or two at a time and then reward your puppy with a game or a walk. If your puppy does the behavior perfectly on the first try, reward him with excited praise and a game or high value treat, and then end the training session.
Teach your dog a focus command, which will help him ignore distractions. Hold a treat to your forehead and say "watch." Reward him as soon as he looks at you. After a couple of repetitions, put the treat in your pocket, then use your finger to point to your forehead. Reward success. Practice until your puppy will look at you when he hears the command. Start where there are no distractions; as your puppy's performance improves, add distractions. If he cannot focus, go back to where he last performed well.
Items You Will Need
- Control your puppy at all times. He should always wear a collar; if outside, he should be on a leash unless he's in your fenced backyard.
- Don't punish your hyperactive puppy. His behavior is not a sign of disrespect, but confusion. If you feel frustrated, take a break. Puppies can sense your feelings; if you are angry, he may become too confused and frightened to perform.
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