A common complaint among pet parents is that their dog is attentive indoors, but just doesn’t listen when outside. Well, of course! From a dog’s perspective, the smells, sounds and sights outdoors (i.e. squirrels, dogs and sticks) are much more exciting that their human.
Molson, the lovable lab/collie mix, was an ace at his name, the recall and other the basic obedience commands indoors. However, he proved to be quite challenging outside the house. He would rather sit and watch other dogs, than ‘come’ to you. If he finds a stick, he’s going to sit right there and chew on it until you force him to move.
After practicing some basic obedience commands indoors, we moved to practice the same commands outdoors. We started with practicing on the sidewalk, and moved to street intersections and to the park. We focused on the recall. A solid recall, where your dog comes back to you no matter how many distractions, is absolutely essential for any dog. We’re making great progress, but we still have a long way to go. Consistency and a lot practice are key!
Here are some tips on transitioning to outdoor training:
- Increase the level of distraction gradually. Don’t go straight from the house to the park!
- Increase the level of reward too! Your dog is putting in more effort, and he needs to be rewarded adequately.
- Repeating the command to your distracted pup is teaching him to ignore it. Don’t repeat commands. Get him to do something easy instead, or just take a break. Shorter practice sessions several times a day is often more effective than 1 long session.
- Make sure you, your dog, and the other folks around are safe. One way to do so is to use a long leash.