Amongst training classes, workshops and private training all in various halls, paddocks and training centres there is an area of training that isn’t always practised but when needed makes the world of difference.
Training your dog in real life means training in many different locations and with all kinds of distractions. Where you train depends on what you have available to you as well as what your dog finds distracting! So if your dog isn’t distracted by a sandy beach but does find a field really great for sniffing then trying some basic training or play on a field will start benefitting you long term more then always being at the beach to practise.
Consider also what you might be wanting to training towards; being able to sit in the park for a picnic with your family and your dog, competing in obedience, agility etc in new places, your dog being able to come with you to visit people and settle in their home, taking your dog on days out or holidays. When you have a goal in mind you can plan to train towards this.
Teaching a settle in the back garden then applying this on quiet walks will start you on your way towards family picnics. That same settle exercise in different areas around your home and garden will help start a settle for other homes and then continuing when visiting people with calm households to start helping your dog generalise settling in different homes and with different people, family members etc.
Over Easter weekend I ran a Training Ring at All About Dogs Show which included a Tricks Demo. Our Tricks Demo Team is made up of members of our classes and their dogs along with myself and two of my dogs. To be able to work our dogs in a new place in front of groups of strangers we have practised at our Training premises, at home and on walks. We practise the tricks included in various places and keep practises short so our dogs continue to enjoy them. We all practised in our training ring throughout the day before the demo to help our dogs settle in the environment with people and dogs passing, loudspeakers nearby, start pistol on the scurry run, smells from the food stalls plus the ground inside our ring and each other!
By practising in many places and keeping the training fun it helped our dogs, and us, feel comfortable with so much going on and meant the demo looked as good to spectators as if felt taking part! Our Dogs were happy and enjoying their tricks, we enjoyed spending time with our dogs, and more people have gone home motivated to try something new!!!
So when working on training exercises with your dog and you realise you would like something to be used in set situations, work out a plan for how you can practise to help your dog settle and focus around the distractions involved. It might mean starting with just play or running about with your dog and build up to the training exercises you want, or it may be starting further away from a certain distraction while working on the set tasks, but starting small and building up with location and distraction is just as important as building up the exercise itself!
Enjoy your time with your dogs and I hope you’re motivated to begin something new!