If your dog is easily distracted when you’re outside, you need this trainer’s five tips

Curious and happy tricolor dog with tongue out
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Let’s be honest, the outside world can be a distracting place - and that’s just for us humans who get to venture out the front door whenever we feel like it! Now imagine that you’re a furry, four-pawed little creature with boundless energy and a nose that loves to sniff everything in sight and you’ll soon understand why our canine companions struggle to focus when they’re out and about.

While arming yourself with the longest lasting dog chews or a tasty equivalent can certainly help your pup to pay attention, it's not always that straightforward. Thankfully, the team at JW Dog Training & Behavior (opens in new tab) says that while getting your dog’s attention outside takes a lot of work, there are five simple things you can do to help them learn to focus less on distractions and more on you.

In a video shared on Instagram (opens in new tab), which you can view below, these expert dog trainers outline five things you’ll want to do with your canine companion to help make those daily walkies that much easier. Here’s what you need to know:

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1. Expose your dog to particular environments frequently

“Make sure your dog has ample access to the environment (as much as safely possible) to make it less novel to them. Scarcity breeds value! Also make sure their sniffing/exploring needs are met. They are way more likely to pay attention to you when they are satiated!”

2. Practice attention and focus games at home

“Teach and build the skills at home where there are less distractions until your dog is really good at them! Then take the training outside.”

3. Offer your dog high value treats

“Heading outside with the regular treats you use every day might not cut it! Bringing something extra tasty that is novel + exciting to your dog can help!” 

4. Try some doggy parkour

“For some dogs, jumping and playing in the environment can be waaaay more fun than walking in a straight line. Remember we are absolutely not forcing our dogs to do this, just inviting them to participate when safe and seeing what fun comes from it!”

5. Time + patience = results

“Building these skills takes time and practice, as well as maturity from your dog. We know your dog always choosing the environment over you can be frustrating, but take it one day at a time and stick with it. Over time if you are doing proactive training at home + outside, you will likely see a difference!”

If you find you've been trying the above tips and not noticing any positive change in your pup's behavior, we recommend speaking to a professional trainer who will be able to offer you some 1:1 support.

For more dedicated training advice for all you dog owners out there, be sure to check out our guide to training dogs with treats.

Kathryn Rosenberg
Freelance writer

Kathryn is a freelance writer who has spent the past three years dividing her writing time between her two great loves - pets and health and wellness. When she’s not busy crafting the perfect sentence for her features, buying guides and news pieces, she can be found hanging out with a very mischievous Cocker Spaniel and a super sassy cat, drinking copious amounts of Jasmine tea and reading all the books.