A common challenge dog owners have can be summed up with the statement…
“My dog listens really well, but he won’t listen when distracted!”
First off, not to be snooty, but if your dog doesn’t listen when distracted then he doesn’t listen well.
But the reason is simple: context.
Dogs live in a world where context is so important.
If you teach your dog to come when called in a quiet living room with a treat and no distractions present, that’s fine.
But when the context drastically changes and now you’re in the back yard, with your dog off leash, and the neighbor’s dog is barking through the fence at your dog…
…and your dog WON’T come when called…
…it’s not because your dog is being disobedient. Or naughty. Or not listening.
It’s simply because you haven’t taught your dog to listen to you under the context of all those variables; off leash, neighbor dog, no treat, etc.
If you’re going to have a dog who is reliably obedient it becomes critical that you not only show your dog how to do something, but then you must change the context dozens of different ways and show your dog that the same rules apply, no matter the context.
You have to show your dog, with LOTS of repetitions, that the same rules apply in the front yard, the back yard, the park and the trail.
You need to show your dog that the same rules exist when he sees another dog, when someone knocks on the door, when there’s a squirrel, or when she simply doesn’t feel like listening.
There is no shortcut. No way around it.
You’ve got to get those repetitions in with all those different contexts and you need to make sure that the outcome is one where the dog listens under each of those contexts.
Do that, and you’ll have a dog who listens no matter what, no matter where.