A blog about dog training and dog breeding…and other sundry matters

How many times have you trained in your living room, and your dog performed beautifully, but failed to obey when you took him out in public? 

There are several reasons for that.  Perhaps the dog is over-aroused, distracted, doesn’t find the cue convenient to execute at that precise moment (you are probably trying to get him to down near poop, or something equally disgusting), or he just may not know the cue properly.

Yesterday Tuvok and Gretchen went to SAR training then to agility.  Tuvok is my white German Shepherd puppy, whom I’m hoping will become one of Jamaica’s first SAR dogs.  He performed his sits and downs admirably.  Today when I worked him in the yard, which I rarely do, he just would not down. 

I took him inside and lured the down once more for about three times before fading the lure.  I am not a big fan of luring, but there are times when it is appropriate.  Tuvok knows his downs in the house, but for some reason didn’t want to do them in my yard.  

Once he got the downs fluently without the lure in the house, I took him outside once more.  He would not down.  I stayed outside, but lured the down once more for about three times, then I faded the lure and asked for the down with the hand signal.  He performed this time.

Sometimes when a dog doesn’t do a behavior on cue in a strange location, you have to go back to baby steps.  Although the back yard isn’t strange to Tuvok, he finds lying on dirt and grass strange because he’s accustomed to lying on tiles and wood floors in doors.  He is an indoor dog.  As he will be a working dog, it is vital that he complies with cues immediately when they are given to him.


Comments on: "Taking an Intermediate Dog Back to Beginners" (3)

  1. Down outdoors is not the same as down indoors. And lots of things can cause dogs to miss a cue. Maybe the cue isn’t as strong as you thought it was. Maybe there’s an enticing scent that you’re not aware of. I found speed trials very helpful with the basic cues (sit, down, stand). Count out 10 treats, cue and c/t as fast as possible. Time yourself, and try to shorten the time for those 10 cues. So if it takes 1 minute to do 10 cues today, tomorrow you’re aiming for 58 or 59 seconds. When I did this, I did just one cue at a time until her resonses were what I wanted. Then I did the other cue for a while. Not until I had sits, stands, downs happening as fast as I wanted did I start mixing the cues in a session.

    • That’s a really great idea, thanks for the suggestion. Tuvok’s downs are better, but in the back of my mind I’m not convinced that they are strong, so I’m gonna try this.

      Debbie 🙂

  2. “How many times have you trained in your living room, and your dog performed beautifully, but failed to obey when you took him out in public? ”

    I think this happens all the time for training. Especially at the beginning of training, I think many dogs (and other animals) have issues generalizing.

    I recently taught Ginger to bow. In the kitchen on the tile floor. It generalized perfectly to the entry way and the bathroom. Did not generalize AT ALL to the living room and other carpeted areas of the house. I had to completely retrain it there. Somehow, the feel of the flooring was closely associated with the behavior in her mind. I found this fascinating.


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