The Interrupt Command For Your Dog

Purpose: Teaching your dog this behavior will allow you to redirect his attention back to you when he is doing something inappropriate like barking, bothering the cat, paying an overenthusiastic amount of attention to visitors, etc. When this command is solidly understood, your dog’s response should be so habituated that he won’t care whether or not you have a treat in hand! However, in order to teach the command, many treats will be used.

Step 1: Set up a distraction free environment. You want to do everything you can to set your dog up to succeed in any training exercise you attempt! Choose a command such as “Over Here” or “This Side” as your interrupt cue. Start by saying the phrase in a happy and upbeat tone of voice while you have your dog’s attention. As you are doing this, reward with a piece of a high value treat (a piece of cooked chicken, turkey dog, cheese etc). Keep this up until you see that your dog is grasping the connection between the treat and the verbal phrase.

Step 2: In an environment with few distractions, practice the command. When your dog is doing something that he finds mildly interesting, like sniffing an old pair of sneakers, give the interrupt command in a happy tone of voice. If he has made the connection between the rewards and the phrase, he should stop the action he is doing right away and come running to you for his treat! Make sure you have it prepared.

Step 3: While in a controlled environment, add in more distractions. Better toys and more items to sniff are good “trials” to see if the command is solid. If the response seems to be getting slow or he seems confused by what you are asking of him, move back to the previous step. Eventually you can try this out in the real world! Walking your dog around the block will be a whole different story when you can prevent him from sniffing at that overly interesting fire hydrant or at that pile of marinating trash on the sidewalk!

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