Erh... my dog can perform all commands at home, but just not outside.
Is it at all possible for a dog to listen and obey commands readily at home, turns into a DEVIL at your yard? Yes, this is possible and I have heard this many times in the years of Dog Training Profession since 2003.
Sad to say, we humans can be very boring and stereotype. However, in our home, there aren’t many things to distract your dog or puppy. Unless you have other pets or toddler, most households have the only living thing, that is US, the HUMAN at home. Regardless of what you do, you become the Centre of Attraction.
Is with such attention, attraction and affection, our dog or puppy does very well in basic obedience commands and will listen to you like you are his idol.
But, when you bring your puppy out of your home, ALL HELL BREAKS LOOSE!
Remember what I said in the opening of this article? “Sad to say, we humans can be very boring and stereotype” Let’s put this in perspective and how it affects our relationship with our puppy.
The moment you step out of your door, the environmental attractions start to compete with you for your puppy’s attention. The smell, the wind, the people, kids, cats, squirrel, dogs, cars, cyclists, joggers, motorists and the list goes on and on … The moment you step out of your home, the competition of attention begins.
You will begin to amaze by how the slightest movement will catch your puppy attention. And everything, everyone, everywhere is more INTERESTING than YOU. How demoralizing it can be!
Here are some of the ways, I will suggest, you can improve the ability to manage your puppy outside your home.
Continue to work at home
Continue to work on the basic at home. As a rule of thumb, if you want your puppy to be reliable off-lead, you need to work enough with your pup on-lead. Allowing your pup to advance too fast, it can only mean, weak foundation. Work on fundamentals; Attention, Name Calling, Leave it, Sit, Down, Stay and Come Commands.
What is sufficient? What does it take to constitute I have done enough in dog training? In this area, I have some very different ideas.
Is your puppy looking forward to working with you?
Can you get 100% attention from your puppy during training?
What is the percentage of success in the fundamentals?
50%, 60%, 70% or 80% and above?
I can only conclude that my puppy has learned the fundamentals when I’m able to get 80% and more SUCCESS RATE. If you are NOT, go back to drawing board, work on the reinforcement.
Puppy don’t lie, if you stinge, seldom or never reward, your puppy will exhibit or reciprocate by not giving little or no attention to You.
Change the environment to work on basic
Changing the environment to work is like teaching your puppy to generalize the environment. Not all dogs will sit on any surface.
I had an interesting encounter, I had trained my dog well and expect him to perform well in dog obedience competition. During one of our field trial, it was raining, and I get to start my heelwork in the rain. However, at my first SIT, Max refuses to SIT. And I have never seen my Max boy refusing such a simple exercise.
And I realized shortly, I did not prepare him for the rain and wet ground. Max never sit on wet grass before and how can I expect Max to execute the command well if I have not taken the time to proof him.
Of course, I got less than what I expected and oh well, I have taken it as a learning experience and never have I, had the same problem ever since.
Given the ever-distracting environment, we should start small, demand very simple exercises such as Sit, Down, Stays. Increase the criterion one at a time. Focus on reinforcement, once your puppy gets his rewards, he is likely to repeat the behaviour.
Below are some techniques, I will use to get my behaviour;
To improve your attractiveness to my puppy, I suggest you work on the variety of food and the value of food. With the ever-distracting environment, you cannot expect the use of the same kibble or treats, going to get you very far. You will be rudely disappointed to learn all foods you used at home, will not work outside.
To start considering variety and different grade of food, will improve your chances to fight to win your puppy attention.
The lowest grade of food are kibbles, dog’s biscuits and chews. The next grade is soft treats, bread and freezes dried treats. Meat-based food such as hotdog, chicken, pork, beef are of higher value treats and the highest grade is Cheese, Bacon and tripes. With careful selection of the value of foods, work together with the rate of reinforcement, it will be a head turner for our puppy.
To animate oneself is to act excitedly, funny and with exaggerated motions, it might attract your puppy back to you. If it’s not effective, we can utilize the Threshold Distance by managing the Threshold Distance from the distraction.
All of us and animals do have a comfort zone. Unless and until I’m within the comfort zone, I will not be settled, uneasy and difficult to concentrate, let alone paying attention to you. Managing the Threshold Distance or Comfort Zone will work to your benefits.
Practice, Practice and Practice and STILL practice. Practising is the KEY! There’s no way to improve your skillsets in Sports, except Practicing. It’s like driving, you will not forget how to drive, but if you do not drive frequently, your road senses, over-taking skills, parking, driving, will all deteriorate. Should you start to drive again, driving with repetition, you will gradually improve your driving skills.
If ONLY you can continue to PRACTICE the Skillset, your On-demand repertoire of skills, will not be effective.
Have fun & stay positive!
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