He Does it Perfectly at Home
I’m sure that Sheila, Pam, and I have heard this statement thousands of times from our students. There is often frustration when your dog can do a sit-stay from rooms away in the house, but while in class your dog cannot seem to even do a 3-foot distance sit-stay.
Try to put yourself in your dog’s feet. Your dog is under a lot more pressure in class than he is in your home. For example, in your home do you have 8 other people and their dogs working by your side? Do you have another human pop into the picture to watch your progress (like we do in class)? Of course not!
Anyone who trains dogs will come across multiple times where her dog, will be distracted. Distractions come in many forms. Sometimes they come in the form of intentional distraction so that the dog and handler team can move forward. That happens when you come to class. Pam, Sheila, and I will help your dog learn to work with lots of distractions. In the more advanced classes here at It’s PAWSible!, we try to come up with as many ideas as we can think of to proof your dog commands.
At first, new dog owners are not aware of how distracting class can be until we reassure them that it is normal for their dogs to get distracted. Dogs are a living being with a brain. They are capable of seeing things and reacting to those things. They are even better at smelling new environments so there are huge distractions there!
So, yes, it’s a good thing if when your dog is here at It’s PAWSible!, he is distracted. This gives you an opportunity to work through those distractions.
That is why it’s so helpful to come to a dog training class as soon as possible with your new dog and then STAY a while. As your dog gets better proofed by distractions, his training moves forward. You just have to trust me on this. I have been training people and their dogs for 25+ years. I’ve seen distraction. Even I attend classes continually with my dogs. My new Border Collie, Batman who is now reaching 7 months, goes to class EVERY week.
Here are a few tips on how to start generalizing what you are learning in class so you can push your dog further and further in your training. At home when practicing the stay, for example, practice "stay" with his leash on. This is a distraction! I think you might notice the first time you try this, your dog will have a short moment of confusion and won’t do the exercise you’ve been doing for days or weeks, or months.
Next, take your show on the road. Go to one of your area’s pet supply stores. Practice what you are learning in class there. Again, you have to make your expectations smaller. There is ALOT going on in a pet supply store. There are smells, people, potentially other dogs. So that is a great way to build on what you are learning.
Other stores in this area that may allow well-behaved dogs are Home Depot, Lowes, and Tractor Supply. The first time you go to ANY of these stores just walk your dog through. Watch your dog’s body language. Is he nervous? If so, don’t stay long, see if you can find someone to treat your dog or you can also just try to get some treats into from your own hand. If your dog will not take food, move on and just go back to letting him sniff, then try again. A dog that will not take a high-value treat, is overly stimulated by the environment. If he is not listening, it’s not because he doesn’t “know” what you are asking, he just doesn’t “know it” in the store!
Always leave on a good note.
Of course, another way to work on distractions is to start and continue your training in class. If you have completed Basic Manners at It’s PAWSible!, you can sign up for anything else that is available.
These are just a couple of ideas, but just try to understand that ANYthing you add to your training is a distraction. Dog’s need to not only learn to sit but be willing to do it anywhere, anytime. Food is your friend but knowledge about how your dog’s mind works is really helpful to anyone training a dog.
I hope this helps you feel better about your dog’s progress. Keyword: “PROGRESS”.