The Three Magic Letters: D D D
If you have taken lessons from me, you have surely heard me talk about “The Three Ds.” They’re not magical, but they’re a good reminder of the ways to challenge your dog.
DISTANCE | DISTRACTION | DURATION
Let’s take the Place command for example. When your dog first learns Place, you are standing very close to the bed, there’s not much going on in the room, and you only expect her to remain there for a few seconds. The dog is literally just learning the command. We want her to succeed! Yay, team!
But eventually you want your dog to stay on place while you answer the front door. While you eat dinner. While you practice yoga on the floor. While you are grilling outside. You need this command to ACTUALLY help you in real life. So slowly and gradually, we increase the Three Ds. To set the dog up for success, my preference is to only practice one D at a time for the first week.
For that first week, if I am going to walk away from the bed (increasing Distance) I will make sure it is a relatively quiet time of day and I will immediately walk back to the bed. If I am going to practice while the kids are coming home from school (increasing Distraction) I will stand or sit close to the dog bed and only expect a short amount of time before I release the dog to say hello. If I am going to expect my dog to say on her bed for ten minutes (increasing Duration) I will sit close and practice during a quiet time of day.
As you work with your dog, it’s easy to accidentally forget one of the Ds. Perhaps you have a small house. Try practicing outside! Maybe you live alone and don’t get many visitors. Take your dog on a field trip to the park or pet store and practice there! Maybe you’re a busy parent and never sit still. Have your dog practice place while you fold the laundry!
If you keep the Three Ds in mind as you practice, you are sure to end up with a confident, reliable dog.