Reinforcers & Distractions

Pick Wisely, it’s all determined by your learner (your pup)!

Higher value distraction needs to have a higher value reinforcer (reward).

  • The learner (your dog) gets to choose the value of a specific reinforcer
  • Experiment to find out what reinforcer your dog likes
  • Be creative and have fun with it!

Now, can you:

  • Identify 5 to 10 Reinforcers for your dog
    • Assign a low, medium or high status to each
      • Ex: cheese – med/high, hot dog- med/high, dog treat – low/med, dog food – low, chasing a squirrel – high, greet a dog – high
  • Identify 5 to 10 distractions for your dog
    • Assign a low, medium or high status to each
      • EX: walking around the house – low/med, kids playing outside – med/high, another dog – med/high, squirrel – high, moving cat – high, sent on ground – med/high


  • The key to picking
    • Understanding how the learner (your dog) sees their world… what matters to them
    • Pair distractions and Reinforcers wisely
      • Use the high level Reinforcers for the high level distractions
        • If paired inappropriately training will suffer
        • If paired wisely, everyone is successful! 



Adding the D’s – there are 3 of them: 

  • Distance – moving away from the dog could be inches up to the length of the house.
  • Duration – time before your dog moves or you move to your dog.
  • Distraction – anything from: movement, toys, sounds and food.

When starting, make sure to only add one D at a time. The Ds can be very difficult for your learner.