Generalizing Skills

Zora and I have been making good progress on a number of our foundation obedience behaviors. Specifically working hard on consistency with correct front and sit at heel positions, grip on retrieve objects, position signals, and kick back stand from heel.

I do as much generalizing as possible on my property. Training in all rooms of the house, the yard both back and front, on the deck, with as many distractions as I can create, etc. and I’m lucky that Zora is a dog that has a good natural tendency to generalize skills. Which makes everything so much easier. But we are at the stage where I really need to get out more and do them other places. Which can be a challenge. There is no hop in the car to find a parking lot to practice in for 5minutes for me. If I’m out walking, Tom is with me always and his job takes precedence. If I’m somewhere I have to know it well enough to feel safe asking Tom to sit to the side while I work one on one with Zora. With training these precision skills, I need Zora and me to be mentally on, so neither of us can be too tired when we practice. And I don’t have the energy to train most weeknights after my husband gets home. Mornings are my prime time. So I have to get a bit creative.

Weekends I can often coordinate some training time in parking lots tagged onto our usual weekend errands. Weekdays I can sometimes coordinate a couple of minutes at the start or end of a walk if my friends are willing and have the time, and if the walk hasn’t already physically and mentally exhausted us. If I’m visiting my folks or sisters, we nearly always work in some training time in their homes and yards. Some weeks a friend of mine is available to get me to and from a morning drop in obedience class.

Or, like today, when the dogs and I are walking by ourselves, I can remember the library wont be open for hours, has a well maintained side walk that runs the depth of their parking area, and realize that parking lot will be quiet as the dogs and I walk past it. Take a detour and get a few minutes in. We walked in far enough I couldn’t hear the traffic any more which meant we were far now from the main road, then asked Tom to hold a down stay and keep an eye on me and our surrounds. Zora and I worked a foot or two away. Zora enjoyed the one on one break in our walk, Tom was a good boy in his down, we got a few minutes of solid training on our fronts, stands and sit at heel in a new location, then both dogs resumed their usual positions for our walk to then continue with Tom guiding on my left and Zora on my right. It worked out very nicely.

Signs of a successful walk, Tom and Zora sound asleep on the living room rug

0 thoughts on “Generalizing Skills

  1. I train the same way. Creatively! Finding time is hard sometimes. I have found some good training spots completely by accident just by driving by or ending up in a different part of the city for work.

  2. I struggle with finding time and energy to train, as a new college student and having chronic illness. Thankfully my dog has her “basics” down well enough that wherever we are I trust her enough to do drills without getting distracter or running off!

Leave a Reply