What is Concentration?
Your pet’s ability to concentrate and focus on a task is important if you are trying to train them or if they are performing in obedience or agility shows. Just like people, pets sometimes find it difficult to focus their attention and can be easily distracted, especially when they are faced with new and exciting noises and smells.
Some pets are just hyperactive by nature and are constantly on the go, not stopping long enough to focus on any one particular thing. This can be incredibly frustrating for pet owners and it can make training a difficult task.
It may seem like they never listen, easily forget the things you are trying to teach them, make frequent mistakes and have difficulty following instructions. That is because without concentration, your pet is unable to focus on the situation at hand and is therefore unable to lay down memories necessary to making learning possible.
How Does Learning Work?
Take the very simplified example of a puppy learning to sit. You may be in front of the dog and verbally giving the command to sit while gently pushing him into a sitting position. The verbal cue acts as the stimulus, while the sitting is desired behavior you want to be associated with that stimulus.
Once in the sitting position, praise and attention serve as a reward to reinforce and encourage the behavior. Rewards can be treats or a favorite toy, and because the best reward is to please you, lots of verbal and physical attention.
If however, your pet cannot concentrate, they are most likely not listening to the verbal command and unable to pair the command to the desired behavior. In order for training and learning to be successful, it’s important to get and maintain your pet’s attention. Eye contact is often a good gauge of attention and if your pet’s eyes are wondering off some place else, chances are they are not fully focused on you.
Concentration is one of those things that improve as pets get older and their attention spans increase. It is also something that develops with practice and once your pet has come to love the reward at the end, you’ll often find that training is easy. But even well trained pets are often thrown off by stress, anxiety, excitement and the bustling action of their surroundings. These factors often interfere with concentration and can be a big problem during training and shows.
Help for Concentration
There are various natural ingredients that can help specifically with improving concentration and mental alertness as well as preventing memory loss – all key factors for performing and training pets! Studies have shown that the herb Gotu kola helps to increase oxygen supply to the brain and improve concentration and memory.
It also works to soothe and calm anxious and stressed pets, which is often a concerning aspect of shows. Another herb that works in a similar way is Rosemary which helps improve memory, focus and energy levels. The natural ingredient Spirulina is also highly recommended to improve concentration as it helps boost mental alertness and acts as an over-all vitality tonic.