Dear Critter Corner: I have been doing a lot of training with my pup and I feel that they are 95% reliable with most of their cues! I am having a problem though; it seems as though the second we step foot outside they forget everything including their name. Why is this and how do I fix it?

This is a problem many owners face with their dogs and training in general! Our dogs don’t generalize their training. I always say we have kitchen ‘rock stars’! Most of us start our training in a particular room in the house and that tends to be the designated training room. We forget to take the training outside and generalize it at levels our dog can handle and build on it, but instead take them to somewhere way out of their training league and expect them to perform as they do in the nice training room.

Here is my basic guideline for helping your pup generalize their training. Start the training in the home and get a solid foundation of the cue. From here you will take the training to your back yard; this area has mostly noise distractions and is controlled. Next, we got to the front yard; this area has sight and sound distractions but is still controlled. Your final training area is on the walk; this is where all the unexpected happens. Of course, you can start very easy, like quiet streets and build to the very hard, such as downtown main street. If you live in an apartment or condo, use the areas that you have such as hallways and common areas before moving to the actual walk.

With all dog training, we want to always look at setting our dogs up for success.  If we are seeing a lot of failures or feel the dog is not getting it, look at how you can make it easier so that the dog succeeds!

If you would like help to address this or other behavior issues, please reach out to our Behavior Department to schedule a 1:1 Consultation at training@phs-spca.org or sign up for group classes on our website.

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