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I have a 9 month old Brittany that has some great hunting instincts and follows direction very well in a vacuum, but as soon as I start introducing distractions everything goes out the window. Everything that I can find on the subject says to start by getting the dog to sit and stay under a progressing level of distraction and reward him every time he looks at me. And of course say his name to get him to look at me and reward him for that behavior.

I have been trying this technique, but it’s not working because he usually doesn't pay attention to a particular distraction or reward long enough for anything to take effect. Every once in a while there will be an extreme distraction like a squirrel or a bird (usually is too distracted to see them) and he just goes into a point that is impossible to break without dragging him away. In my apartment, I can give him a new bone that he will lust for, and he will pause with the bone in his mouth and look at me when I say his name.

I have never trained him on treats before this point, and because of the ability for him to even possibly pay attention to a treat reward I tried bringing in multiple different treats (he loved all of them), but he just won’t connect them with anything or really want them. Most recently, I brought him out to the dog park alone at night with the treat bag. I sat down on the bench after giving him time to acclimate to the smells and game him about 2-3 feet of leash, let him know that I have treats and proceeded to say his name and rewarding him for eye contact. He would respond maybe 5% of the time and it was for only a split second. So I tried just shaking the treat bag to transfer his attention and he wouldn't even look at it. He almost looks drunk with how many different things he would be looking at. I cant even keep his attention long enough for a high energy game of fetch outdoors.

I need to get him to learn to stop and look at me when he hears his name so I can instruct him further. I can’t figure out how to instill this in him. Is it just the spaniel puppy in him that has to mature or what?
 

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Instead of just using his name use a "watch me" command. Start with him just looking at you and proceed to make it longer and longer. I believe it's a problem with any dog that has a high prey drive or a drive to chase things. I have not mastered this with Zoey yet and I am going to a low cost adult education class for dog obedience to get her used to distractions. This will be the second time I'm going to the class but for Zoey she needs the practice - inside she can do pretty much anything I ask of her but the same commands outside doesn't yield the same results. Of course maybe if I practiced more with her ...
 

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Sounds as though your pup is doing a great job of being a puppy. :D I struggle with similar issues and my dog is past the official puppy stage. You might find some ideas in this thread even though it's geared to keeping attention during a formal class: building focus and attention (note that OP also has a spaniel). Kikopup has a few videos on teaching attention, too.

What have you been using as reinforcement? You mentioned not using treats previously. Have you tried marker (or clicker) training? The idea is that you mark the exact moment the dog performs a desired behavior and then offer reinforcement. It can result in greater success because it's more precise than trying to offer a reward at the split second he looks at you. Also, it helps the dog connect his behavior to the reinforcement.

I'd also recommend against using a dog park for training. There are so many wonderful smells from all the previous dogs that it's not surprising he was distracted. Perhaps there is less popular / more familiar area you could use. I started training for attention in our yard; there certainly are distractions (deer, fox, bunnies, squirrels, crows), but there were no other dog smells competing for her attention. It also helps to find something your dog really loves (high value treat, squeaky toy, the opportunity to sniff) and use that as reinforcement. Also, as you increase difficulty (i.e., distractions, duration, distance), reinforcement should increase in frequency and value.
 

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First, this is exactly how other sporting dog puppies his age act, so take heart. Maturity will help.

Second, I don't think you're using the treats correctly. The treat should be a reward for him focusing back on you. It sounds like you're using it as a bribe, by shaking it and trying to get him to focus on the treats. This can sometimes work in a pinch, but it's not "training".

Look up "Look at that" game. It seems counter intuitive to reward him for looking at something else, but you are really training him that those things in his environment aren't available to him, but the treats in your pocket (or a toy, or playtime with you) are available if he will switch his focus back to you.

Have you done any obedience classes with him? One of the primary reasons to take a class is to practice around distractions and an instructor could give you more tips.

Eta: I agree with starting out in a less distracting environment and working up. If he can't focus on you when you say his name at home, he isn't ready to do it in the park.

Also, what have you previously used as a reward if you didn't use food? In some way he needs to know that focusing on you will be more rewarding than the environment. If you aren't appropriately rewarding that with a toy or playtime with you or something else exciting, it's likely that he doesn't find it valuable to focus on you. Self-rewarding by looking at or interacting with the environment is powerful, so you need to build up the idea that focusing on you will be super valuable.
 

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I always introduce distractions inside first, as this is an easy way to start. Such as "accidentally" dropping treats or a favourite toy on the floor while the dog is supposed to be doing something, like a sit/stay. The closer to the dog you drop them, the higher the distraction level. Always reward when the dog is successful. You moving away from the dog is also a distraction, and heeling past toys and treats on the floor is another good one. When he's good at this, you can throw treats/toys past him/at him. Be creative and have fun with it. Set the dog up to succeed (i.e. don't make it so hard that you know he will fail) and when he doesn't get up to steal treats/toys, reward and praise profusely. He's supposed to have fun with it too.

If going outside is too distracting, then I would start rewarding attention and focus long before you actually go outside. Can he focus when the leash comes out and he knows he's about to go for a walk? Trying pretending you're about to go for a walk and then asking him for basic stuff while you're holding the leash or while the leash is on him, before you go out. If he's ok with that, try opening the front door and doing stuff with him inside while the door is open. Then the excitement of the possibility of going for a walk is the distraction. When he's responding to that, I would step just outside the front door, and repeat. Then a few more steps from the front door, then in the driveway, then further and further from the house, etc.

This might mean that your dog doesn't get a proper walk for a week or two, which is ok. Every time you take him for a walk and he's oblivious to your existence, he's practising a bad habit which will only become more and more ingrained the more he does it. You need to be practising a good habit over and over.
 

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First off, thanks for all the great tips.

Clicker training and some classes is something that I may look into. And I have not yet tried to brink a squeaky toy to the park to try to get him to react to that.

His reward for being a good boy is usually praise of different levels of enthusiasm depending on what we are doing. I make him sit and stay every time before he gets food, water or comes in or out of an exterior door. In fact whatever I am working on him with I make him do before any of these activities. He usually does this without prodding and if he doesn't, the only prodding involved is a simple hey command (use this as a reminder he knows better).

As far as introducing more distractions inside, I cant do that without going to an extreme sudden distraction that he has no chance with. I can play fetch and he heels, sits and stays until I tell him to go fetch. I can disperse all his toys and etc about and have him stay in heel while I walk around and make random changes in direction and stops. I can tell him to stay in one room, while I go into an adjacent one and lets say make the bed and he only will try to break once or twice (just now starting to really set stay in stone for him).

Now for a little bit more on his reactions in distraction. If he gets onto a particular distraction while on leash I can tell him heel and give him a quick tug or two with the leash and he will just take 2 or 3 small steps back and sit while fixated on whatever it is. He wont look at where I am when I give him the command and as a result wont actually come to heel. Then if I try to play the waiting game and wait for him to eventually look back at me, a butterfly will come by and it starts all over again.
 

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A couple more thoughts and comments on your last post.

Your dog is very young and he's getting to the dreaded teenager stage where all the training you've done seems to have vanished. Generally, it's recommended that you continue training, be super consistent, and train/practice cues every chance you get. Once he's mature, things will fall into place and you'll have the dog of your dreams.

First off, thanks for all the great tips.

Clicker training and some classes is something that I may look into. And I have not yet tried to brink a squeaky toy to the park to try to get him to react to that.

His reward for being a good boy is usually praise of different levels of enthusiasm depending on what we are doing.
Praise is great, and some dogs live to hear "good puppy!!" But, for many dogs, they need something more - especially when there are very strong environmental rewards. Food treats are commonly used because most dogs like them (especially if training occurs just before meal time) and they're convenient. Play (e.g., fetch or tug) are good rewards, too. The Premack principle is useful to learn about. The basic idea is that animals (including humans) will perform a less desired behavior for the opportunity to do a more desired one. So, if your dog likes to chase balls, use that as reinforcement. "Fluffy, watch me!" Fluffy gazes at you adoringly. You toss a ball for Fluffy to chase. Fluffy learns that looking at you leads to fun ball chasing. :)

I make him sit and stay every time before he gets food, water or comes in or out of an exterior door. In fact whatever I am working on him with I make him do before any of these activities. He usually does this without prodding and if he doesn't, the only prodding involved is a simple hey command (use this as a reminder he knows better).

As far as introducing more distractions inside, I cant do that without going to an extreme sudden distraction that he has no chance with. I can play fetch and he heels, sits and stays until I tell him to go fetch. I can disperse all his toys and etc about and have him stay in heel while I walk around and make random changes in direction and stops. I can tell him to stay in one room, while I go into an adjacent one and lets say make the bed and he only will try to break once or twice (just now starting to really set stay in stone for him).
It's possible that he doesn't know the cues as well as you think he does. He may know them in context, but perhaps not in a different setting. What happens if you feed him at someone else's home? Does he still sit? Or when you leave the pet store / vet's office / friend's house? Does he wait for release at the door? This is a nice article: But He Knows It!.

What sort of reinforcement do you use for his stays, sits, and heels in the house? I'd increase the value of that. So, for sitting before dinner, he gets awesome treat and dinner. Waiting at the door, awesome treat and a walk. Heeling around toys, awesome treats. I'd also start training a watch me cue and use high value reinforcement even when there is no distraction. Make looking at you the best thing ever.

Now for a little bit more on his reactions in distraction. If he gets onto a particular distraction while on leash I can tell him heel and give him a quick tug or two with the leash and he will just take 2 or 3 small steps back and sit while fixated on whatever it is. He wont look at where I am when I give him the command and as a result wont actually come to heel. Then if I try to play the waiting game and wait for him to eventually look back at me, a butterfly will come by and it starts all over again.
Again, he may not really know what heel means outside a very specific context. And if there are squirrels and butterflies competing for his attention, his brain is gone. Elrohwen gave good advice about teaching look at that. It's about making him think you're the most wonderful thing in the environment and he'll want to keep his attention on you.

Good luck!
 

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And of course say his name to get him to look at me and reward him for that behavior.
IMO, reciting his name or saying 'watch me' etc could be considered a mild form of bribery in itself. Not much different than shaking a box of treats.

Allow him to be the master of his own destiny. Say nothing. Give your dog the CHOICE to pay attention under low distraction, entirely on his own accord, and reward well when it does occur. Then GRADUALLY increase level of distraction. Be patient, observant, and skillful / timely with the use of a marker word or clicker.
 
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