TAKE THE TIME TO PROOF! In addition to going to new locations with your dog, be sure to thoroughly proof all skills and exercises. This means games, transitions, and releases too. As soon as your dog responds correctly to your command or cue 80% of the time, begin to proof his understanding of that skill. Taking the time to correctly proof will ensure your dog understands exactly how you expect him to respond to the cue or command regardless of the circumstances.
Proofing is the final step in training your dog any new behavior and should be done on all skills you expect your dog to complete successfully in the show ring. It involves practicing behaviors in a variety of situations with different levels of distraction. Failing to proof skills is the reason why your dog may perform behaviors well at home, but seem to forget all his training the minute you enter a ring.
When you begin training your dog to do something new, teach in an area that’s fairly quiet with little distraction. Once your dog is able to respond quickly and confidently to a command, it is time to add distractions and new locations. To ensure your dog builds confidence, only add one variable at a time.
So how you ask “how would I proof a skill.” Practice the skill until your dog is able to respond to the command quickly. Then begin to slowly add new variables. You can start by adding some distraction to his environment – other dogs, toys, etc. while practicing the skill.
Once your dog is able to respond quickly on command with some distraction, begin practicing in different places. Examples could be, the front yard, store parking lot, or a school yard. Keep each training session short and keep the session fun. If your dog begins making mistakes, simplify a bit by moving a bit away from the distraction.
After you have practiced a behavior with different amounts of distraction and in a variety of locations, your dog should have a really good understanding of the skill. He should now be able to perform the behavior in any location and under any circumstance.
A proofed dog will have a much better chance of performing in the ring!
Need NEW Proofing ideas? Check out my proofing book – Success is in the Proofing