Elements of training series: The Three D’s of difficulty.

The three D’s of the difficulty level in dog training.

Duration, Distance and Distractions.

When training our dogs we need to aware of the difficulty level and be setting them up to succeed, but how do we do this?

Through understanding the dog’s environment and choosing a setting that suits our current level of training. As a result, when our dog keeps not succeeding to achieve our goal. Then it is our training plan that is at fault, not our dog.

The first of the Three D’s: How Duration affects the difficulty level of dog training.

D for Duration.

The amount of time the behaviour is performed before completion. Behaviours such as a stay or wait on cue use duration. A dog that is expected to stay in one position for ten minutes is on a higher difficulty level than one that needs to perform the stay for ten seconds. Duration also affects the level of training for our dogs in things such a loose lead walking too. Is our dog expected to walk for five minutes without pulling or fifty?

The second of the Three D’s: Using Distance to increase or lower the difficulty level.

D for distance.

Distance can be used to change the difficulty level of dog training in several ways. The first, how far does the dog have to perform the behaviour. Loose lead walking, for example, a dog that is required to walk a hundred meters without pulling the lead is further in training than a dog that succeeds after ten meters.

Another way distance affects the difficulty level in dog training is how far away from us the dog is. For example, cueing a dog to perform a sit 20 meters away instead right in front of us.

Likewise, a recall would be another good example. Calling your dog back over two hundred meters is more tricky for them than recalling them from 5 meters away.

Distance is also involved when training either a “stay” or “wait” cue. When the training goal is to “park” your dog and move away from them the further, we walk away from them the higher the level difficulty of training is for our dog.

The third of the Three D’s: Distractions and they affect the difficulty level.

D is for distractions.

Distractions come in all manner of forms: smells, other dog’s, squirrels, number of people, being indoors or outside. Being at the local park when no one is there and when it full are two very different distractions levels.

Asking our dog to perform the recall at home in the front room is far simpler to achieve for our dog when compared to being down the park at a busy time of day. Every additional element in the environment we are training affects the difficulty level of dog training on that day.

Read More: Distracted Dogs and Attention

Conclusion, of the Difficulty level for training our dog.

The three D’s allow us to adjust the likely success rate for our dogs.

When increasing the difficulty level of training for our dogs, it is best to improve one D at a time. From experience, enhancing the dog’s ability to perform the duration of behaviour comes first.

Followed by distance, as when adding distance also requires duration. Finally, distractions are increased slowly added. Training with our dogs has many factors.

Read More: Efficient Dog Training

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Happy training
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