Keeping it Real - Training or Not
Updated: Dec 7, 2020
We do all the research we can, we get everything prepared, and then we get that very young dog home. We are super excited and take the responsibility very seriously. We are doing our due diligence to get our dog trained to the best of our ability with our friendly neighborhood dog trainer. We practice at home and things are going great. The relationship becomes more cemented, and we enjoy our young dog who is slowly maturing and getting better and better at manners and obedience.
Then, we hit a major roadblock: we become humbled and surprised that we simply have no control of our dog in public anymore. Our dog is highly distracted and seems incapable of paying any sort of attention to us. As our dog gains more mental maturity (and thus is more gutsy to be independent) and reaches the adolescent state between 9 to 14 months, it feels as if our dog knows absolutely nothing. Many of us get confused and frustrated.
It is important to keep our dog’s education through those prime early months as realistic as possible. While it is crucial during early behavior acquisition to provide a low distraction environment, it is essential to the dog’s overall success to add those valuable and realistic distractions as soon as possible into our training plan.
Just because our dog performs basic skills such as Sit, Look, Down, etc reliably in our living room or a “sterile” training building, we cannot expect the same results with screaming kids on the playground, flying frisbees, and barking dogs surrounding us. There is NO transferability of those skills unless we add those real life scenarios as early as possible in our dog’s lesson plan.
We must maintain a somewhat real picture under all circumstances for the dog to understand the similarities between “training” and just a normal interaction in public. Training never stops in that sense.
If we take our young dog into the public to socialize, we can still reinforce and fine tune what we learned at our friendly neighborhood dog training facility. We should never disregard the obedience aspect when we interact in public (although we may not even be in a training setting). We use high value food to keep the dog engaged. We use regular posture, at all times, when we reinforce skills. How many of us bend over to get our dog to look at us? Use normal upright posture to insist on eye focus as that is the picture your dog would have in public when you just go on a stroll.
So....Get that favorite motivator out and let’s do some public obedience work! Share your experiences with me!!