Get Your Dog's Attention: Just Be more Brazilian
That’s right. If your more Brazilian, you’ll have an easier time training your dog.
Before I get into why being more Brazilian will make you a better dog trainer, let’s just go over one concept first.
There is one thing no trainer on this planet can help you with. It’s really something very personal between the dog and the owner, and it holds so many people back from having a trained dog. Yet, it’s really the easiest thing to work on and you can start working on it right now with only 5-10 minute a day of training.
You should work on building your dog’s attention to you.
People always say, it’s so hard to train my dog because they’re so easily distracted. In class, they want to play with the other dogs. At home, they run after the kids. Outside, they want to run and chase everything that moves. They’re constantly sniffing around and not focusing on me.
Attention (i.e., sometimes referred to as “engagement” or “Relationship”) to the owner is the backbone of all training. It’s more important than sit, stay, down, etc. Those are just commands, but those commands mean nothing if your dog isn’t paying attention to you. Attention should be the very first thing you teach your dog.
The video below is a perfect demonstration of that. To give you context, there are about four people next to me, and the dog is a 10-week-old Belgian Malinois puppy (the daughter of Tony’s dog Gregor). Tony is moving around the building and rewarding the puppy each time she gives him attention. Notice how animated and excited Tony sounds when she gives him attention and returns to him; To the puppy, Tony is the most exciting and rewarding thing in the environment. You’ll see she does get distracted and starts to explore but notice that Tony doesn’t call to her. Instead, He waits for her to realized there’s nothing more interesting in that building other than him. After she explores, she realizes Tony is more exciting than the thing she’s sniffing, and she sprints back to him. He did just that activity for about 5 minutes (video only show the end). Tony is establishing that the best things come from him! If that is true, why would the dog pay attention to anything else? It’s no different than our own attention. it’s why we procrastinate; our own attention is constantly moving away from pain (e.g., chores, work, etc.) towards something more pleasurable (e.g., TV, Facebook, radio, etc.). Think about it!
So, why does being more Brazilian help with dog training? Here’s the story about that. Tony’s trainer and mentor, Mario, is Brazilian. Early on, Tony noticed that dogs just paid attention to Mario. The reason is that Mario is very boisterous and animated; That is very exciting to a dog (that’s why dogs typically gravitate toward children; kids can be very animated and loud), and it keeps their focus on him. Tony said Mario would also make these “noises” that were interesting to the dogs. Most dogs (and certainly puppies) will interact with the most rewarding and exciting thing in their environment. Whenever Tony was struggling to keep his dog’s attention during Schutzhund training sessions, Mario would yell out “Tony, be more Brazilian!!”
So, that’s just it. Be exciting and animated with your dog in order to keep their attention. Be the most interesting thing in the room, and your dog will focus on you. when they pay attention to you, reward them with special treats, their favorite toy, or some play time. Simply do the exercise in this video for just 5-10 minutes a day and your dog will become more interested in you than the other distractions around them.
You’ll establish that nothing they’ll find anywhere is better than you.