Does this sound familiar? “He does it perfectly when we’re practicing our dog training. But when we’re not, he doesn't listen!”

If that sounds like your situation, then you need to take your dog training to the next level! We like to blame our dogs when this happens. He performs beautifully when you have the treat pouch on, tasty treats in the pouch, and it’s time to practice his skills. Then the doorbell rings, and all bets are off. Or you’re running late for work, and he won’t listen.

This is not your dog’s fault. This means your dog training needs to start transitioning to real life scenarios. Dogs take many of their cues from the environment or context, and you have completely changed the context from a training situation to a real life scenario. Not only is the context different, but YOU are different. In the dog training sessions, you probably have very few distractions, it’s fairly quiet, and you are completely focused on your dog. Then real life happens and all of that goes out the window. You are focused on other things, and so is your dog.

I have a Board & Train dog here with me now. She goes home in a few days. When we began dog training, I worked in very controlled set-up training sessions. As we get closer to her going-home date, we do far less of those and more and more real-life sessions. I need to clean the bathrooms? Dog training time! I need to do some laundry? Dog training time! I need to make a return phone call to a potential client? Dog training time!

These are the types of situations where it really counts, where the training is supposed to kick in and we have a well-behaved dog! But we need to practice it. I spent twenty minutes on the phone with a potential client the other day. My two dogs and my Board & Train dog all did a twenty minute down-stay while I was on the phone. Did the person on the other end of the line know it? No. Did the dogs hold position and remain quiet for twenty minutes? Yes! Did I reward periodically throughout the phone call? Yes!

Is it time to move your dog training to the next level?