For a dog, paying attention to their handler can be challenging, especially if there lots of distractions in the environment. The Pennsylvania Farm Show is coming up on January 7-14 (food court opens January 6), and many of our dogs in training will attend. It’s a great training experience! However, between the crowds, the delicious food, and all the animals, it can be hard for puppy raisers to keep their dog’s attention.
Here are five tips to help you set your puppy up for a successful outing.
Awesome Power Treats
One way is to make sure you have power treats, really good power treats. You might even want to go beyond hot dogs, especially if hot dogs are your typical power treat. Think chicken or leftover steak.
Keep the Outing Short
If you’re planning to spend hours at the Farm Show, you may not want to bring your puppy in training with you. Set your dog up for success by planning a short outing. If your dog is doing great, you can consider staying a little longer, but try to leave while your dog is still being successful.
Have a Plan
There’s a lot to see and do at the Farm Show, so having a plan can help you set your dog up for success. Check out the schedule of events and pick out a few things you think your dog will be able to handle. If your dog does well, you can always check out other exhibits. Make sure you also have plan in case your dog is having a challenging time and you need to leave, especially if you’re attending with friends and family.
Know the Stress Signs
Make sure you know your dog’s stress signals. By recognizing the early signs of stress and then removing your dog from the stressor, you can help your dog have a more successful outing. For example, if you’re walking near the cows and your dog starts to yawn, scratch, pant, or shake themselves, they might be telling you they’re stressed. Move your dog away from the cows (or whatever the stressor is) and find a quiet corner where your dog can relax. If you need to, take your dog outside and give them a sniff break. If your dog becomes too stressed, leave the Farm Show entirely.
Don’t forget to pay attention to the other end of the leash, too! If you become stressed, your dog will pick up on it, and it will affect their behavior.
Don’t Expect Perfection
The Farm Show is a difficult outing! Cues that your dog knows perfectly at home will suddenly become very challenging at the Farm Show. For example, your dog may have mastered “go on through” and walk perfectly through doorways at home and out in the general public, but at the Farm Show, you may have to use a lure to get your dog to walk through a doorway correctly. That’s okay!
You may also find that you need to click and treat much more frequently to keep your dog walking with a nice loose leash. That’s okay, too! You’re helping your dog be successful.