Proofing & Generalization
In my opinion this is what dog training is all about. Dogs do not generalize well. This means that if they learn a cue in a certain environmental situation they have a hard tine understanding the same cue in a different environment. For example, your dog may know the cue ‘sit’ really well in the local park but when this cue is delivered in a shopping mall the dog does not respond to it.
This does not mean that your dog does not want to follow up on the cue. It simply means that your dog really does not know that cue in this environment.
In order for dogs to understand that a certain cue means the same thing all the time (for example – ‘sit’ means put your behind on the ground) we must teach the cue in many different locations. Teach it at home, in the park, on a busy street, in a parking lot, in a shopping mall, a gas station, a basketball court, near a school, near the ocean, in the Dog Park, etc…
Proofing simply refers to a long process of generalization. After proofing a behavior, the dog will be able to respond to it regardless of the location and the environment he/she is in.
This process is what dog training is all about. Getting a behavior is relatively the ‘easy part’. The most time consuming part of training is proofing the behavior and achieving consistency in the dog’s response to a cue.