My dogs intense focus - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 5 (permalink) Old 06-07-2016, 02:27 PM Thread Starter
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My dogs intense focus

Lestrade will sometimes get laser focus on something and it is impossible to break her concentration.

There are two main times she does this.
1. some people/small animals:
she will just stare it down if she's on leash. Off leash, she'll chase the small animal. People she'll just stay by me. If I ask for a sit, she will only do it if I give her my "correction" which is scratching her butt. She'll sit, but will not break a stare.

2. Smells.
Smells are Lestrade's absolute favorite thing. If she smells something she will shove her nose in it and the only way to get her to break her concentration is to drag her away from the smell. I've tried super high value treats, her favorite toys, even breaking to let her smell during walks. None of it has improved.

I don't know how to reach her during these focused times. She will listen at home. I've tried increasing the difficulty (taking her to the local park), but once she's satisfied she's smelled the thing enough, she's done with it. There doesn't seem to be a middle ground of smell it a little and come back to me.

I know I need to build up to getting her to focus on me when I ask her too, but I am not sure where to start.

Do I let her sniff/stare at what she wants on walks until I get a reliable focus at home? Or do I keep trying to get her to focus on walks while working on a reliable focus at home?

- GSD/Malamute
- 2 year old
- Spayed female
- have had since she was 8 weeks
- favorite things: squeaky toys and hunting rabbits

- GSD/Lab
- 2 year old
- Spayed female
- Adopted December 2015
- favorite things: food and coffee
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post #2 of 5 (permalink) Old 06-07-2016, 03:59 PM
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Location: michigan
Posts: 5,548
Lestrade is a malamute mix huh?The northern breeds tend to be very independent and not as responsive to what their owners want.My girl Misty(Siberian Husky mix) is the same way.Her favorite thing is running and tracking in the woods.We go once or twice a week and she's in heaven.The other two follow her as she races here and there finding the most interesting things to smell.She'll hop right back in the car when I'm ready to leave.
In our case I've just accepted it's her genetics at play.There's a reason you don't see many northern breeds in the obedience ring,lol!I think she simply isn't able to focus on me like Samson does.He responds to my every nuance and wants to make me happy.
So you're not alone anyway!Maybe someone else will chime in with a way to overcome the independent streak!I love my wild happy girl the way she is.


Samson Blk/Slvr GSD. RN
Misty Husky Mix
Z-Z Terrier/potato mix
Devo Yorkie Mix at the bridge
Dakota Wht GSD at the bridge
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post #3 of 5 (permalink) Old 06-07-2016, 04:03 PM
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Location: Dallas, TX
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Layla is the same way, however she isn't mixed with any northern breeds...
I am interested to see what other people have to say on this matter.

Layla- WGSD mix- Shelter survivor
Lionheart- mean fat cat
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post #4 of 5 (permalink) Old 06-07-2016, 06:01 PM
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Location: Maryland
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I'm not an expert but this is what has worked for me. I did get the ideas from reading here mostly.

I don't let my girl get started on the intense focus elsewhere. I keep a watch for the first signs and then I act. Be it a verbal command or I nudge her with my leg. I tell her to leave it. I show her her ball. If she keeps focus on me, I'll reward her. I don't let the stare down begin. Find her first sign or signal and act then.

A nugget I read here that has helped me immensely, is when the leash is tight or the focus is gone, you have already lost the battle. You need to correct it before your dog's focus is completely elsewhere. It's a different training mindset. This has made a great difference with me and my pup.

I also have trained my pup that she can't always smell around. Sometimes she is free to. Sometimes not. That is a work in progress but she has improved and she knows that sometimes it just isn't going to happen. So many " no nose.." And keep walking with a leash pop. If she's being good, she has more freedom on our walks.

Good luck!
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post #5 of 5 (permalink) Old 06-07-2016, 06:38 PM
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Location: NE WA (state)
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Very true (above post)... People ask me all the time 'how do I sit through the buck?' I ask if they want to ride a bucking horse, of course the answer is no, so the next answer is 'just before the horse gets out of control, DO SOMETHING that changes the focus and makes the horse have to obey.. Basically aborting the buck before it happens'.. So the same holds true for the dog.. Usually, there are some precursor signals that the trance is coming... Just before that, get her attention, distract, get obedience, do SOMETHING that distracts from the intense stare and zone out... Also teaching a 'leave it' or 'out" command will help...
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