Welcome to the fourth post in our series about helping your dog learn to perform behaviors reliably and fluently in all sorts of circumstances and environments. Click Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 to read the previous entries in this series.
Variation 4: Environment
Make sure you practice exercises indoors and outdoors, on a hardwood surface, on tile, carpet, grass, dirt, cement, artificial turf, stone, gravel. Find one of those metal things over a storm drain and make sure your dog is OK with walking over it. Practice on any other surface you can find. Also consider the weather: What if you’re shopping with your dog and a storm blows in but you don’t have time to wait it out? Where possible and within reason, do some outside practice with your dog in inclement weather. Maybe on a porch, with brief excursions even into the rain if you feel safe doing this. Safety first! Take walks on sunny days, cloudy days, windy days, cold days, warm days. Take walks by outside decorations during holiday seasons. Once, on a walk, one of my dogs exhibited extremely fearful behavior when she spotted a coil of artificial evergreen lying in the road. A student’s dog once began barking furiously at a statue he had walked by many times before. You never know what might affect your dog, so train deliberately through as many things as you can think up. As always, check with your instructor if you have any questions and especially if you run into any problems while working with your dog.