The Administrator from the Great White North, eh?
Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: Northern British Columbia
One way to keep her attention and interest is to give her lots of rewards during a training session. At first the breaks to play with the ball come fast and furious: Sit, gets the ball. Down, gets the ball. Come! Gets the ball, and so on. Training sessions are short, and you stop BEFORE she looses interest. Take the ball away, session over. This keeps her from reaching the point of getting bored and loosing interest.
Then you gradually work up to longer sessions, more commands between play rewards, and longer periods of focus. Keep her in a state of focused interest, stop before she checks out. You should be able to watch her eyes and see when they sort of start to drift because her attention is wandering.
Eventually, by working with her on a regular basis, you should be able to extend her ability to stay focused for longer periods without getting bored. Still, for most adult dogs, 15 to 20 minutes of work at a time is plenty. She may not be able to give you that right now, but it is something to work towards.
I also found that there was a big incremental step between 2 years old and 3 years old in how much focus my dog was able to give me. Used to be 10 to 15 minutes, and I would see him checking out mentally (he was still able to perform through the obedience exercises, but I could see that his attention was gone). Then at three years old, his focus is about doubled to what it used to be, seemingly overnight. So with your rescue, another year might make a huge difference, but first you need to work on building up her attention span in baby-steps.
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Keeta BH, OB1, TR1, AD
Rottweiler/Hairy Dog mix?? 2004-2015