Distractions, Duration and Distance – Proofing Behavior

The Three Parts of Proofing Behavior

Choose one behavior that you believe your dog knows and understands.
Use this page (and your imagination!) to try different scenarios to see if your dog can do the behavior in many different situations. If they don’t, it might be time to work on one specific aspect of proofing, and not all three at once.

Distractions – Can your dog do the behavior while…

  • You hold a plate of food in your hand
  • You hold their favorite toy in your hand
  • Your hands are in your pockets
  • Your back is to them
  • You’re laying on the floor
  • You’re in the EZ chair
  • You’re outside on grass/gravel/cement
  • You’re outside and there’s a squirrel in the tree
  • A second person is moving around the room

Duration – Can your dog maintain the behavior for X amount of time?

  • 2 seconds
  • 5 seconds
  • 10 seconds, etc. etc.

* While training this always switch the time back and forth, do not incrementally increase. i.e. 2sec, 4sec, 3sec, 6sec, 3sec, 8sec. etc.
* Also, end on something easy.

Distance – Can your dog perform the behavior X distance away from you?

  • 2ft away
  • 4ft away
  • On the other side of the kitchen
  • On the other side of the living room with you sitting on the sofa
  • On the far side of the dining room, with the dinner table between

The farther you are away from your dog the more susceptible they’ll be to distractions so it’s very important to thoroughly proof for distractions before adding duration and distance.
Also, if your dog wants to ‘walk-in’ to perform the behavior, try throwing the reward to/behind them. Or, using a barrier such as a baby-gate, or tethering to an immovable object.

Use your imagination, but always end at a place where your dog is successful. Work in two minute increments and then do something that your dog really enjoys like scritches or chasing a toy.

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