Dear Miss Behavin’: My pup won’t listen to me once we are outside. While in the home he is great and won’t take his eyes off of me, the second we are out the door it is as though I don’t exist. Can you help?

This is a problem that many owners face and an easy one to address once we look at things from your pup’s point of view. Most of us do the majority of our training in the home and expect it to transfer to all scenarios. This is not true as our pups don’t generalize their training very well. Here are some fun ways to work on getting your pup to check in more often outside of the home.

One of the first things to work on is reinforcing any time your pup looks at you or in your direction. Since behavior that is paid attention to will repeat itself, your pup will quickly get the idea if they look in your direction, they can earn reinforcement. You will start to say your pups name when they are not looking at you and when they respond, be ready to reinforce. Once this exercise is solid in the home, move to your back yard and play the game there. You will again increase the difficulty level by moving to the front yard and finally take it to the streets!

Another fun game to play with your pup is the game of ‘Touch’ or hand targeting. You can do this by placing your hand in front of your pups’ nose and the second their nose touches your hand reinforce that behavior. You can turn it into a fun game and way to get your pup’s attention while out on walks.

Remember that getting a behavior started in the home is a great way to build your foundation, but you must generalize the behavior to the outside world. You must also work at a level your pup is able to succeed at, build the distractions slowly.

If you need more help or would like to schedule a 1:1 consult, please contact our Behavior Department or visit our website.

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