How can I make my dog listen to me outside?

Sometimes dog owners complain that their dog, which is absolutely obedient during classes with the trainer or during home classes, doesn’t listen to commands outside. So why does your dog ignore you when outside?

Why does your dog not listen to you when outside, despite the fact that it is obedient at home or during training?

The reason why the dog is disobedient on the streets while it always listens to your commands when at home or at the playground is simple. As a rule, it happens when the owner trains his dog exclusively at home or at the training ground. But as you can see, it is not enough. 

The thing is that dogs are extremely bad at generalizations. That means if you are training them with commands such as “Come” and “Heel” at the training ground, the dog remembers that these commands should be obeyed ONLY at the training ground. Other places mean other conditions and a significant increase in complexity for the dog. It becomes too hard to concentrate on the owner’s demands. In fact, it is almost a different command which means there’s no guarantee the dog will perform it. 

Even if you are used, for instance, to giving a command by a gesture of the right hand, and you suddenly decide to use your left hand, your dog may be very confused and won’t get what you want.

If your dog doesn’t listen to you outside, it doesn’t do so on purpose or because it is a “bad” dog. It simply doesn’t understand what you want and/or finds it difficult to focus on you.

So how can I get my dog to listen to me outside?

The answer is quite simple: train your dog in different circumstances: at different times of the day, in different places with different numbers of stimuli. Make the training process as diverse as possible. However, it is important to increase the complexity gradually. 

That is, if the dog is used to performing a “sit” command only when at home, it is not a good idea to go directly to a busy street with lots of people, cars and loud sounds. The chances that the dog will perfectly listen to the command are quite low. First, you should exercise in a quiet place, which is familiar to the dog, is not far from home and where no one is likely to interrupt you. After that, you can work on the command in other places and gradually increase the number and intensity of stimuli. 

Go to as many locations as you can. The more places the dog sees regularly, the easier it becomes to adapt to the new conditions and to clearly execute a command in an unfamiliar environment. And the changes shouldn’t necessarily be global: you can exercise in several neighboring glades in the same forest, on either side of your house, give the command with the left and right hand, and so on. 

After that, you can increase the complexity and the number of stimuli. You can exercise when other dogs are nearby and you’ll finally get to the point when the dog is completely focused on you and is obedient, no matter what. Screaming children, barking dogs, cars and bicycles will no longer cause problems. 

August 20, 2020

Join thousands
of happy Dog Parents!