view all puppy resources

The more exercises you do that help puppy learn to inhibit his impulse to be mouthy, the easier it becomes for him to control himself around scarves, pant legs, etc.
Dancey Distractions

Dancey Distractions

Dancey distractions are things that normally make dogs want to snatch, chase, grab, or bite. In the video, we are using a dangling leash. The more exercises you do that help puppy learn to inhibit his impulse to be mouthy, the easier it becomes for him to control himself around scarves, pant legs, etc.

Start by simply rewarding puppy for holding a sit or down. At first, puppy will need treats very often. As he settles in, you can gradually slow down the rate of treats.

One thing to focus on is that your treats are discrete and distinct. Rather than keeping your hand in front of his nose with treats all the time, as soon as you are able to you will remove your treat hand and pause between treats. Reward often enough that puppy does not get up. If puppy gets up, start over.

Place the treat between puppy’s front feet if in a down, and right into his mouth if in a sit.

Just like with your Foundation Stay exercise, you don’t need to release and reset your dog each time you reward. The idea is for puppy to hold their position for as long and as calmly as possible – try to have puppy hold his sit or down (with several rewards) for 10-30 seconds each time. No treats for pups who get up. Treats begin again when puppy is back in position. We want puppy to settle in to the position as much as possible.

Don’t worry too much right now if puppy doesn’t know the words “sit” or “down”. You can just feed or lure him into position, as the point of this exercise is for puppy to learn to hold the position even when there are distractions.

Once puppy is nicely holding his position between treats, start to add Dancey Distractions. Anything that your puppy might normally like to grab or bite can be used as a Dancey Distraction.

Dancey Hands: People often play hand-wrestling games with your puppy, which can encourage him to bite. Let’s teach puppy that he can experience hands moving around his face, remain calm, and keep his teeth to himself. The Dancey Hand can start out as a lazy crawling spider. Once puppy can watch the lazy spider without getting up to investigate, it can gradually move more and jump around., then gradually moves more and jumps around more.

Dancey Feet: People moving quickly past puppy can make it difficult for him to control himself – and, those pant-legs look tasty. Let’s teach puppy that he can remain calm, even while people walk right in front of him, and keep his teeth to himself. The feet start out best just shuffling, scooting, kicking sideways a little. When puppy can contain himself at that level, do jogging in place, and jogging past puppy. This works best with one person training puppy while another person does the distractions.

Dancy Leash: Once puppy sees his leash as a tug toy, it can be a difficult habit to break. It flips and flitters around his face while he is on a walk, and sometimes he just can’t control himself. Let’s teach puppy that the leash can move around his head and he can still remain calm and keep his teeth to himself. Dancey Leash is the distraction shown in the video. Dancey Leash starts out best just holding the handle of the leash higher than the puppy’s head, with a j-loop below his chin, so that he sees it in different orientations around his head. Once he is successful with that it can sway, swing, and wiggle gently.

Introduce each distraction at a low enough level that puppy can succeed. Use your imagination and think of distractions of your own. Don’t be afraid to fail every now and then. If a distraction is too difficult for puppy, just find a way to make it easier. Don’t avoid the distractions that cause failure. Failure just tells you what you need to work on! It’s always better to discover and work through problems in training than to find out in the real world that puppy can’t keep his cool.