Who doesn’t love dog tricks??
Does your dog know sit? Probably. For most of you when you ask your dog to sit, your dog will likely put their bottom on the ground, often directly in front of you. It’s an excellent start. What about when there’s a distraction, for instance if your dog sees another person, dog, or cat on your walk? Will your dog still sit? Asking your dog to sit can bail them out of some tricky situations. If your dog is sitting, then they’re not jumping, begging, chasing, or doing some other rowdy, unruly, or potentially dangerous behavior.
Our April Behavior of the Month is proofing sit and down, so that dogs in the play groups will understand that the word “sit” means to put your bottom on the ground no matter what’s going on around them and “down” means to lay down no matter what’s going on around them. It may sound easy, but this can be a pretty challenging request for many young playful dogs that are having such a good time with their buddies. Many times we can interrupt play by saying a dog’s name to get their attention (Name Game!), say the word “sit” and they’ll give us the behavior. In some cases, we’ll say “sit” and the dog won’t give us the behavior. What to do then? We will try to make our cue easier for the dog to understand by giving them a hand signal to sit (with no treats in our hands). If that doesn’t work, we’ll use a piece of food in our hand to lure a sit.
Our goal is to figure out some way to get the sit, so that we can reward it. For all dogs (and all mammals) rewarding a behavior will make that behavior happen more often. So, if we can get the sit in a highly distracting environment like a room full of playful dogs, it will make it more likely that the dog will sit the next time we ask. This is a great way for your dog to develop a good habit of sitting no matter the distraction.
At home you can work on this the same way, asking for sits on walks, when visitors come to your house, or in other distracting environments. If your dog doesn’t respond to the word “sit” when you say it, try not to repeat it. Instead try a hand signal and, if that doesn’t work, lure the sit. Have fun and “Go Sit”!