FRONT! A great exercise to teach your distracted dog!

When heading out into the world alongside your dog, what is your biggest fear? What challenge do you encounter every day? Is it not being able to manoeuvre your dog on walks without having to physically drag them on the lead? Or perhaps is it that your dog finds the world scary and needs a way to re-focus their energy away from distractions?

If your dog finds it hard to stay focused on you – its human – then you will want to read on!

One of our TOP exercises here at Barket Place – and one we use a lot over in our online training group, our Barket Club – is the “Front” recall training game. It’s a combination of two exercises – recall and a “Sit” (or a “Down” if your dog prefers). It’s simple to learn the basics but takes a little more practice to take it to its full potential.

Want to give it a go?
Let’s dive straight into how to teach it… grab your treats and let’s get training!

You can start by luring your dog with a treat on their nose – encouraging them towards you, finishing by raising the treat so they effectively fall into a “Sit” position. Ignore any of your usual verbal cues at the moment – we’ll add the words in later.

Just by luring the behaviour over a number of repetitions, until your dog is starting to get the idea and is comfortable moving towards you, you’ve taken your first steps towards teaching the “ Front”. Congrats!

Once your dog has got used to doing this new behaviour – of a combined recall and “Sit”, you can then add in your new cue. In this case we’re suggesting the word “Front”. To add your cue, simply say the word “Front” then lure your dog, as before, into the desired position.

To further finesse this exercise, you can look to increase your dog’s proximity to your body when they get into the “Sit” part of the trick. All you need to do is place your treat hand (the one you feed your dog with) close to your legs at their head height. This will mean your dog has to lean his head towards you … hopefully encouraging them to shuffle their bum closer to get that treat!

Once your dog is happy to follow the verbal cue and the lure – you can begin to remove the lure and just say the word “Front”, gesturing towards your body with an empty hand. This will get our dogs to come towards us and fall into that “Sit” position.

When you feel more comfortable doing this – you can try it with your dog starting from a bigger distance away – so it can become an alternative recall cue/game. When you reward your dog, toss their treat away from you to get them to move away… when they are finished eating the treat you can call that “Front” again – now they’ll be coming towards you from a slight distance.

And finally you’re going to want to begin to change the position you stand in whilst you call the “Front”. Turn your body slightly away from your dog to start with – this will lead to them being able to come to the “Front” cue even if your back is turned. Now it becomes a game of “find the front of my body”!

If you want to see this exercise in action – or to get a step by step visual guide to teaching it – make sure you visit our Youtube channel (and why not subscribe while you’re there?)

Alongside this being a really fun recall training exercise – you can also use it on the lead too as a way to ask your dog to move back and face you if there’s a distraction ahead. I hope you enjoy teaching this one to your dog.