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.