"My dog won't listen to me." "Treats aren't working."
You've finally mustered up the strength and courage to take your dog for a walk. Your arm is still recovering from nearly being dislocated from the previous walk that took place 30 days prior. So what's going to make this walk any better? What can you do? You've tried treats, collars etc. Why aren't they working?
What it really comes down to is the novelty of these experiences. When dogs don't get the opportunity to saturate it can be extremely challenging to get them to do what you ask. Why? Well, there are so many sights and smells that you've become old news. These are what we refer to as competing motivators. This is where saturation comes into play. The first step is letting your dog absorb all these new sights and smells without you asking for anything. If you're starting out on a walk, hang out in your yard for 5-10 minutes with your dog leashed up and ready to go without asking your dog to do anything. In the beginning, your dog will be very confused and anxious. Wander around with him and let him start sniffing. Plant your feet if he's trying to actually pull you in a direction. Don't ask for anything from your dog. This is very important. At the moment, your value has dropped since there are so many new sights and smells. You can raise your value by patiently waiting a few minutes and letting your dog saturate. If your dog does happen to look back at you, offer a treat for it. If he willingly takes it, great. If his interest in the treat drops when you go to offer it to him, remove it. The last thing you want to become is just another distraction in the environment waiving food in your dog's face.
Saturation takes place by getting to experience the thing often. If you do daily walks in the same area, your dog will saturate in the environment and it will be a heck of a lot easier to get his attention. As soon as saturation takes place, food will become a motivator again. This is an example I hear all the time. "When I take my dog for walks he isn't food motivated." It's not that he isn't motivated by food, he is just overwhelmed with motivators and doesn't know what to explore next. It's like a kid in a candy store.
So what is the takeaway here? If you're in a situation where your dog is "out of control" and you can't get his attention, you need to bring him to that environment more and let him explore it with his nose and eyes. By doing so, all those things will no longer motivate him leaving just one motivator left, you. It's also important to use the proper training equipment. So for your next walk, leash him up and hang out in front of your house for a bit. Let him explore and wait for some of the excitement to die down. When you're ready to start walking, try this.