Is your dog behaving badly? Try this trainer-approved tip for a more obedient pup

Naughty dog looks up innocently after digging up potted plant
(Image credit: Getty Images)

If you're the proud pet parent of a canine companion, you're probably very familiar with the phrase "They're so much better at home!"

Whether it's common loose leash walking mistakes that make those daily strolls feel more stress-inducing than stress-relieving, or you're constantly trying to calm a reactive dog who growls at passersby, many dog owners can relate to the feeling that their pup misbehaves a whole lot more when they're out in public.

And do you know what? That's normal! 

"Every dog does better at home," explains Carolyn, an expert trainer and founder of Good Dog Training.

"That's because they spend the majority of their time at home. It's not distracting or exciting. Dogs/puppies who don't get out much will find new places very overstimulating or overwhelming and will absolutely have a harder time listening."

So, what's a frustrated pet parent to do?

Well, in a post shared to Instagram, Carolyn says it all comes down to varying where you train your dog.

"Dogs and puppies need to be trained in all the places you expect them to listen," she explains.

"Being able to sit quickly at home isn't going to translate into them being able to sit quickly on a busy restaurant patio with food and lots of other people around. You need to practice there."

While it can be tempting to keep your dog at home all the time and not get them out and about, Carolyn says that avoiding outings in public with your dog because they don't behave well will only make things worse.

"They won't learn if you don't give them a chance. The more you get out, the more training opportunities you have, and the less of a novelty going out will be."

Carolyn says it's also important to remember that training and learning is not all or nothing.

"It's not 'my puppy either knows this or he doesn't', it's not black and white," she explains. 

"Your dog may know 'come' in easy, non-distracting places, but may not know how to process or navigate that cue in a busy, distracting environment. A child can know how to read and understand See Spot Run but not Shakespeare"

So remember, even if your dog currently misbehaves a lot when you're out and about together, training needs to happen in a wide variety of locations with lots of different distractions in order for them to improve.

If you're struggling to figure out how to deal with a badly behaved dog and would like some extra support while your pup learns the ropes of what's expected of them, a professional trainer is well worth considering. 

Kathryn Williams
Freelance writer

Kathryn is a freelance writer who has been a member of the PetsRadar family since it launched in 2020. Highly experienced in her field, she's driven by a desire to provide pet parents with accurate, timely, and informative content that enables them to provide their fur friends with everything they need to thrive. Kathryn works closely with vets and trainers to ensure all articles offer the most up-to-date information across a range of pet-related fields, from insights into health and behavior issues to tips on products and training. When she’s not busy crafting the perfect sentence for her features, buying guides and news pieces, she can be found hanging out with her family (which includes one super sassy cat), drinking copious amounts of Jasmine tea and reading all the books.