By Andrew Ledford
Dog training and distractions
Orange County has some great places for dog training. Training challenges range from mild to difficult with very distracting environments. I am going to share with you some of my favorite places for polishing a dog’s obedience training in the OC. Most people find controlling their dogs more difficult around highly distracting stimuli. On the flip side, dog training can be more effective if done in new and challenging locations. Effective high distraction practice locations I’ve found in Orange County range from duck ponds to horse trails. I need to mention that a dog should know all the basic commands very well before you try using them in challenging conditions.
Orange County provides many interesting places for improving your pet’s social skills. Dogs trained in different locations and under stressful conditions usually respond better to commands when you really need control. Being in and adjusting to new places requires your dog to adapt to the stress associated with novelty and social uncertainty.
Many people only practice dog training around the house. Dogs that are only trained when all is calm will usually not respond well when exposed to unusual situations. Command reliability is one reason it’s important to get in the habit of working your dog away from the house and enclosed yard.
You can start by working the canine student in the front yard where it’s likely they will encounter distractions (environmental and social stressors).
Once your dog is working well in the front yard with traffic and neighbors going by, you can to move further into the neighborhood. Now it’s time to work your canine kid up and down the street. When your dog is comfortable training away for the house start going around the block.
Try to train in at least one new area every 3 days.
As a general rule it’s good if puppies can have actual interaction and contact with a 100 people a month. This is also good for friendly adult dogs. If your dog has aggression problems it may be necessary to enroll on a training program before you can safely trust it in public..
I like to work my canine students in areas of high distraction and moderately high stress levels, such as on Main street in Seal Beach or Huntington Beach. The beach areas can give you a challenging environment to practice in while at the same time providing a good opportunity for your four footed student to participate in social interactions with many people.
In the summer Bolsa Chica Beach can be very chaotic and exciting. This can create a high stress environment that’s often beneficial for increasing a dog’s reliability. When taking your best friend to highly stressful places for training approach novelty with care. Some dogs find it a bit overwhelming with the smoke and fires, runners, bladers, bikes, yelling, horse playing teenagers, and campers. When at the beach for training expect the unexpected.
Dog walk and training at Sunset Beach and Bolsa Chica State Beach.
At Bolsa Chica you must keep your dog on the paved pathway, if they go onto the beach you could get into trouble with the law.
Another place I like to train is at cafes and outdoor restaurants. Teaching you k9 pal to calmly hang out while you socialize and eat is a useful skill that can make your dog more fun to be with.
The photo was taken in Irvine at a restaurant my friends like to gather at.
Irvine also has some great places for distraction training with large birds. I’m thinking ducks and geese. I have a series of videos on the blog showing a Boxer dog that was in a custom in home training program working with the geese. I have also worked dogs around the lake in Woodbridge and that too is a great place to train.
puppy training at Orange Park Acres – Santiago Oaks This photo is me and a German Shepherd puppy I was training close to Orange Park Acres, at Santiago Oaks Regional Park.
I like to balance high, medium and low stress in my training practice. Keep you training balanced by training your canine students in areas quieter than crowded California beach cities. Orange County residents are lucky in that The OC has some wonderful semi-wild area to enjoy with our best friends. The open spaces or semi-wilderness areas have their own challenges and stress factors. For most dogs it’s just plain fun to get out where they can use their noses. Dogs probably enjoy the experience of scent about the same as we enjoy the experienced of beauty and sight. But some budding Einsteins get so busy having fun they can’t control themselves or listen to their owners. Experiencing doggy distractions will give you a chance to do a little training and conditioning. When out adventuring in Orange county remember to enforce good training habit using your preferred style of training (food, leash, clicker, long line, head collar, ect).
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