2 Ways to Take Control That Will Grab Your Dog's Focus

In order for any training to be successful, you MUST have control of your dog. If not, you’ll be talking to deaf ears. Just like children in a classroom, you have to have their attention before learning can begin. If at some point during training she gets distracted, you’ll need to gain control once again.

The key is to limit your training sessions to 15-20 minutes each. Some dogs can tolerate more, but beginning with shorter sessions is recommended. Depending on your schedule, 3 or 4 short training sessions per day is ideal.

You and your canine pal have just finished your morning exercise and are ready for skill training! Aren’t you? Well maybe. There are a few factors to consider. Do you have a dog that you’ve just adopted from a shelter who has had absolutely no training? Maybe you’ve just gotten a new puppy? If you’ve exercised your pooch and still can’t seem to get their attention, here are 2 techniques you can try.

Ignore the Behavior

If you have a puppy/teenager who has had no training, you are probably facing some challenges like jumping, distraction, and nipping. I like to give my canine students the opportunity to figure out what they’re doing wrong first. By patiently letting her figure it out, the modification will stick.

Ignoring unacceptable behavior is the way dogs handle this between themselves. Granted jumping and nipping can be quite painful. If you can’t handle it, then don’t do it. You don’t need to get injured. Try tucking your hands in your arms (to keep them from being handy biting objects), turn your head away from your dog or even turn around. Completely ignore her without saying a word. As soon as she calms down, give a quick praise with a treat or a rub. Don’t talk baby talk or give excessive praise since this will cause her to become excited again.

Supervised Tether and Control

Mandy and Emmett Training with Tether

This technique will require 2 leads, a harness with a ring on the back, and a collar.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Attach one lead to the harness. This will be your tethered end. Take the loop of the lead (where you normally put your hand) and put it around a sturdy sofa or chair leg. You want to make sure if she pulls, the furniture won’t follow.
  2. Connect the 2nd lead to the collar. This will be used in front of the dog as your control lead.
  3. Once you have your dog in position, you may have to wait a few minutes for her to settle down. This is normal. Just wait it out.
  4. Make sure you don’t have too much slack in the tether lead, but enough for her to move around a little. Hold on to the control lead. You want your dog to “figure it out” themselves. You may need to place your foot on the control lead to help especially if you have a larger dog.
  5. NO petting since this will act as praise, making her think moving around is what you want. Wait quietly and still. Once she settles down, give praise and a treat, then you can begin your training.


This technique should be used gently. It’s not for forcing your dog to do something. It’s simply making it so that she cannot move around the entire room and, in turn, puts her focus on you. Once she learns control, you will be able to train other skills without using the tether and control method. This technique should not be used permanently nor should a dog be left in this position/tethered after training has finished.

I strongly encourage you to work on these behaviors FIRST before moving into training mode. If you have any questions about controlling your dog or would like to schedule a consultation, call or contact me today at 762-218-3708. We currently serve the Evans/Grovetown area.

Now that you have control, you’re ready to Train!


*NOTE:  If your dog is unresponsive to these techniques or you don’t feel comfortable implementing them, contact a trainer who is familiar with behavior modification in dogs. Do NOT attempt to do anything that will jeopardize your safety.


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