Where Should You Be Training Your Dog?
So you have been working at home with your dog to perform a command or cue, and he/she is doing it perfectly…then when you want to show off your accomplishment at class, there is nothing to show off…Fido just sits there and looks at you with a blank look on his face. Has your training failed?
Every dog instructor hears this quite frequently…” I swear, my dog did this perfectly at home.” Or “He’s soooo good at this at home!” We all believe you, because we know and understand a concept that many students choose to skip over in the training process and in doing so, hurt their progress and have a dog that “only performs” in certain situations.
It is called “Generalization,” which means you have to take your dog out of your living room and start all over teaching the same behavior somewhere else…everywhere else. Dogs view our world differently. It’s like they are wearing blinders and they need to be shown that one trick may earn them a reward in lots of different places. So “Take the Show on the Road”! If you will go out in the big world, slowly increasing the level of distraction as your dog does better and better, he will soon perform wherever you are!!!
How to “Take the Show on the Road…
We suggest you practice what your dog is learning in as many locations and situations as possible. Remember, that the more distracting the environment, the easier you will need to make it for your dog.
Examples of ways to do that include:
- Decreasing the duration of a STAY
- Move the dog farther away from the distractions (like into a quiet aisle in a pet store, not an aisle that has 3 dogs in it already)
- Offering more inspiring treats
- Rewarding more frequently
While it is important to challenge your dog to promote progress, it is equally important to set your dog up to succeed and not push too far or too fast.
As a dog trainer, I believe that the most effective method of dog training revolves around teaching your dog what you want them to do, how to behave, how to act in their environment, and what appropriate behaviors are under given circumstances and situations.