Hello again from us at deltacanine.net. Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving. In today’s article we discuss training you and your dog for that dreadful public experience.
Understandably, taking your canine from the nice comfortable and controlled training environment and thrusting them into the real world with real people, (not other handlers), real dogs (that have no obedience) and real life distractions causes stress. This is completely normal and expected. It is stressful for both you and your dog. Stressful for you because you aren’t 100 percent confident that all the training you completed has satisfactorily prepared you for the real world and you aren’t 100 percent your dog will perform like he’s supposed to. Guess what, you are right on both counts. Just like we have discussed in the past, changing even one variable has an impact. Now lets talk about the stress for the dog. In addition to the stress of a new environment with new smells and sights, the dog picks up on your stress. As Mike McConnery at Baden K9 says, the dog reflects the handler. If you are amped up and stressed out, your dog will be too. It flows both ways down the lead.
Ok so I just told you that stress is normal and to be expected, both for you and your dog. I also said that as much as you train, you and your dog will make mistakes. “Well shit Case, thats great but now what do I do about it? I don’t like making mistakes.” Yeah no one does but view it in a positive light. Look at a mistake as a training opportunity for you and your dog so when you fail, you can fail forward. Going philosophical on you for a second, its interesting as we grow older how we become afraid of failing, thus limiting our growth. I love watching my daughter as she learns to walk especially when she just started to learn. Yes, she fell and thus failed but she got back up every time and now she is unstoppable. She failed forward. Do the same with your dog when you both make mistakes.
Now since we got the perspective out of the way, lets talk about making our first debut as successful as possible. As has been mentioned in previous posts, our training philosophy is obedience under stress. We learn something and then proof it while increasing the amounts of stress applied. Start small and increase. Add elevated positions, more distractions, more handlers, more dogs etc. Make it a challenge. The confidence and bond built through training under stress allows you and your canine companion to tackle ever increasing challenges. What is the most challenging obstacle out there? Real life. So now braced with the success of stressful training you are ready to venture forth and take a stab at the real world.
But understand that when you are taking your dog out into public it is just another training environment. Its a little bit more awkward when you have to correct your dog in public but other than that, its just an opportunity to improve your bond and communication. As soon as you become comfortable with the idea of correcting your dog in public, there is no limit to what you can accomplish with your furry friend.
Just a quick update on our public experiences. We had to run to Home Depot the other day and it was busy as all get out. There where people all over the place and kids galore. At one point, 4 kids ambushed Scout and she was completely fine with it. I always explain to kids that she is in training and they may pet her as long as she stays in a SIT. As soon as she gets up they must stop, otherwise they are rewarding bad behavior. For the most part they understand and abide by my instructions. One of the workers was impressed with Scout’s progress and let me know. Thats always nice to hear.
So get out there and train. Train stressful so real life isn’t as stressful and you can build that bond with your canine companion.