Proof: the act of testing or making trial of anything, test. Proofing a behavior is very important; I am working on proofing my release right now with Elsa. This means that I am making sure that she is not releasing too soon or on her own. She must wait for me to say the release word before she is released for anything. We are using feeding time for our proofing now as it is a very intensely driven obstacle for her. I do not want her thinking that the first word out of my mouth when her bowl is down and she is waiting; means that she gets to eat. So I am throwing all sorts of words and tones at her.
Proofing behaviors means that your dog can perform a certain behavior under any circumstance. They have learned a behavior and can achieve success under high distraction and in any environment. Proofing means practice, practice, practice. Most dogs do not generalize well; which means that when you teach them to sit at home they may not be able to do it anywhere else. If you want your dog to perform behaviors out in public then you must "proof" them out in public.
When you first teach a dog behaviors; it is best done in a quiet, non distracting area. That way you can be sure that they are getting a grasp on the task at hand. Once they have it you can then move to different environments like different rooms, the backyard, front yard etc etc. As they achieve success you can add new and more difficult environments. Then once you have gotten a handle on environments you work with distractions; starting with very easy distractions and working up to intense level.
Some dogs generalize more than others; for these dogs you may excel through the proofing stage. But all dogs have their obstacles; it may take a while to find your dogs tough spots but when you do you will also need to work through them. So far Elsa has shown that she generalizes quite well but already has a few blocks that we need to get over. We are working on waiting to get out of the car until I say so; she's having a tough time with this. I also require that she sits before getting out; I will not have dogs diving out of the car willy nilly. She has a tough time with stay when she wants out of the car; so we are working very hard on that.
It is very important to know your dog inside and out; understanding them personally helps you to help them to achieve success.