Ever wonder why your dog listens really well at home and doesn’t know what the word “sit” means in public or comes all the time unless he’s at the beach? There are two things you need to work on if you want a dependable dog that listens all of the time. You need the mindset that training is throughout the life of the dog. If you want to teach your dog sit, down, come and then forget about it, you will have a dog that says “forget about it”. That’s right.
Dogs are creatures of habit. Last night I set up our group class differently than I normally do. In group we place dogs on place boards and the boards are normally either in a circle or lined up north and south in a row. Last night I lined up the boards going east and west. The dogs noticed the room was different and they were distracted when we started our heeling, sit, down phase of our class. The only thing that changed in the room was the location of the place boards. The dogs noticed and were paying more attention to the place boards than the handlers.
If you want your dog to be obedient all of the time you need to train with your dog in different environments. Take your dog to different parks, work them around water, the pet store and take them into a home improvement store. The more environments you work your dog the better they will listen when they are off your property.
I have had people bring their aggressive dogs in for evaluations and guess what, they were not reactive when in my kennel. They were either territorial due to being on their property or fear aggressive. Either way they didn’t have the guts to react on my turf. The dogs behaved different in a strange environment.
If you want your dog to behave at the in-laws while visiting you better have done the ground work and trained your dog in different environments. Service dogs for example are trained in many different environments so they learn to stay calm and under control no matter where they are.
Don’t expect your dog to behave if you never leave the house. If you don’t want to be embarrassed at your veterinary visit, the veterinarian better not be the only place your dog has been in the last six months. Going along with training in different environments is training with distractions. I have an indoor training facility and it doesn’t take long for the dogs to become very comfortable in my training room. When this happens its time to train outdoors. Suddenly the dog is struggling again because of all the odors and distractions. Once they are doing well walking along my road and in the grass its time to go to the park. You get the idea?
Can you walk your dog past people playing disc golf or tennis, do children playing or dogs barking distract your dog? These are all things you need to work through and teach your dog to ignore. My background is training police dogs. Police dogs need to ignore distractions and work anywhere. Service dogs need to concentrate and work anywhere ignoring distractions. Your pet can do the same if you are willing to work at it. Leave it, let’s go, we train with distractions so the dog learns to listen any time.
Training is throughout the life of the dog. It’s not just when you come to class or take 10 minutes out of your day to work on some basic skills. When I am home watching television my dogs will hear something, run to the window and start barking. This morning it was the plow driver. Here is an opportunity to train. I told my dog quiet, here and down which he did. If he had continued barking I would have followed through, got off the couch walked over to him, scolded him, taken his collar and lead him back to the couch and put him in a down. There is an example of training when I really wasn’t training but there was a behavior the dog was doing that needed to be addressed.
After dinner sometimes the kids want to give the dogs a treat, something they could not finish either chicken or beef. Its allowed away from the table, tell the dogs to come and then they need to do something else for their treat; sit, down, speak, high five something. Another opportunity to train. As long as you have the mindset that training is all the time and take the time to proof your dog in different environments you will have a very well behaved dog that people enjoy spending time with.