Dogs and distractions are one of the most common causes for them not to behave. Nearly everyone who owns a dog will tell you that “he’s great except for…” This is also true with the phone calls I get from prospective clients. The “exception” is usually around other dogs, when the kids are playing, if a bike rider goes by, when there’s food around, etc. In other words, when there are real life distractions involved. As trainers, we understand how dog owners can get discouraged when they spend a lot of time and money on “training” that only works when the environment is unnaturally quiet. Even in the unlikely event that the owner lives in the middle of nowhere and never plans to bring the dog any place, this is an unreasonable definition of “training”.
A good dog trainer knows that the time you need your dog to obey you the most is the time when he is least likely to obey you. If a group of guests arrives at your house, can the dog sit quietly and behave in a mannerly way as the visitors mill around? If you are walking your dog in a public place and a group of little kids out for a stroll with their day care supervisors passes by on the same footpath, will the dog walk calmly past them without causing any kind of alarm by jumping up, barking or being nosy? If the clip on your leash breaks while you’re walking through the parking lot of a busy pet supply store at a shopping centre, can you get your dog to come back to you and proceed quietly to the car? If you saw someone with an out of control dog at the park, could you leave him in a down/stay and go help the person with his dog some 30 50 or 100 metres away. Will he remain there even though a bicyclist rides by, or a couple of people play Frisbee near him?
By now, many of you reading this are shaking your heads, perhaps having already seen your dog’s manners and reliability put to the test with less than impressive results. Believe it or not, you are in the company of many obedience instructors and “dog trainers” as well!
Those of us who train our dogs and the dogs of our students for real world experience we are preparing them for situations like the ones above.There is absolutely no point what so ever having a dog that is only obedient in a controlled environment.
As our dogs that we train progress we introduce more and more distractions. For example training in a busy car park of a shopping centre,or go to a local football match with crowds of people let alone walking past a sausage sizzle.For that matter training on the outside of a dog park with all other dogs inside playing barking and running around. Would you ever consider training your dog inside a dog park? I myself would love too but alas I couldn’t trust the other dogs. But I know I could trust mine.
Out there, it is you and your dog and every distraction that could cause him to lose concentration or believe that its time to disobey. There are no excuses. Either your dog trusts you to guide him successfully through this high-pressure situation or he doesn’t. You have either suitably trained him or you haven’t. And if you haven’t, you will certainly find that your well behaved fido at home becomes an obnoxious,irresponsible ,deaf dog out in the real world.Dogs and distractions will never go away so rather than try to change the environment lets just train the dog for them.
Doesn’t it make sense that a trainer who regularly and successfully subjects himself and his dog to this high level of distraction will be able to help you get your dog’s focus when you need it most?