Give your dog a job: First Evaluation
You have completed your puppy class or basic obedience class, and those skills are just not transferring to home life. What happens when your dog “knows stuff” but you are still having some behavior challenges. This is your dog’s 90 day evaluation. When you start a new job, they give you some responsibility at first, but want to make sure you can handle that before moving on to more difficult projects. Give your dog his 90 day Evaluation and see where he could use some help.
First let’s make sure your dog actually “knows stuff!” Make a list of the “stuff” your dog knows.
What “stuff” are we talking about? We are talking about the stuff you learned in your 6 week class. (Sit, down, touch, mat) Write it down! Take this list and go through them with your dog in your living room or other quiet area.
Can your dog:
- Perform cues quickly the first time you ask.
- Perform the cues without a treat visible.
- Perform the cues without hand signals.
- Perform the cues while you are sitting and standing.
- Perform the cues with a bucket of food on a table.
Now take your list to the yard! Do the results of this list look the same as in the house? No? This is your dog’s continuing education!
This is where you build on that group class you took long ago. Once you start to change things, you go back to the beginning of the learning phase. Over time and with lots of repetition, your dog will begin to understand that “sit” means put my tail on the ground no matter where you are. Take note of when your dog says they “can’t” perform the cue. That is information! Is the environment too distracting? Does my dog actually know what I am asking them? Are they tired, hot, have to pee, need water? Dogs actually want to do things that we ask, some just try harder than others.
Once your dog actually “knows stuff” and can perform cues in the presence of distractions, in multiple locations, then you can start to expect more from your pup. Build some duration into those behaviors, start moving around while you have your dog in a sitting position. Can they stay there? What about when you open the front door? Can they stay while you get your amazon package?
This is how we start to build more expectations for our dog, and start to put the responsibility on them to be reliable no matter what. Build up to the big distractions.