“Fluffy is really good at lead walking – until we see another dog, then he pulls like crazy!“
“Coco is so good at sitting when I ask – but only in the house”
“Bella just loves people so much – her obedience is great but she won’t do anything for me if there are people around who might give her cuddles!”
“Max is such a good dog, so obedient and well behaved – until we go to the beach and it is like he can’t hear me calling him!”
What do all of these statements have in common? Dogs losing focus on the task at hand in the presence of distraction. When we teach our dogs how to do something new, we always start this in a familiar environment with minimal distraction. It therefore makes perfect sense for us to start our training in the home. Once our dog has mastered a skill here, we must then take it out to the big wide word and “proof” the learning in the presence of distraction. This teaches our dog that the skill is expected in all scenarios, not just in our living room!
Training in as many environments as possible, in the presence of as many different distractions as we can, enables us to gain reliability in our dog’s skills. Our dogs learn that “sit” means “sit” wherever we are, despite what else is going on around us at the time which may be of interest. Taking our training “on the road” also helps our dog to be clear that working with us is the priority – not the shiny distraction of another dog, a person, a bird, an interesting smell, a toy…..you name it! Our dogs are motivated by many things, our goal is to be the most motivating thing of all. We are always asking our dog to make choices – choose to sit when I ask, don’t choose to chase the neighbour’s cat. Be the best option to your dog – make working with you fun and highly rewarding and watch the change in your dog’s obedience level!