This month we’d like to get back to the basics and work on teaching Sit, Down, and Stand on a verbal cue. We work on these skills regularly in play groups, but wanted to make a special effort this month to make sure all the dogs are grounded in these basics, especially dogs that are new to our play groups.
As we discussed back in April of 2013, teaching a solid verbal cue for sit, down, and stand can be harder than it sounds, especially when you incorporate distractions – like a group of dogs running around and playing! For all three of these skills, when working on teaching a verbal cue (or proofing the cue around distractions) say the word “sit” or “down” with no other cue (no food in your hands or hand signal). If the dog sits or lies down, excellent! If not, try to make the exercise easier by cueing the behavior with a hand signal. To do this, say the word “sit” or “down”, wait 1-2 seconds, and if you don’t get the behavior use a hand signal. If the dog doesn’t respond to the hand signal, use a piece of food in your hand to lure the behavior. Repeat often and remember to say the word “sit” or “down” first, then use the hand signal if needed.
When you’re working on Sit, Down, and Stand there are actually 6 moves, or position changes, that you can practice: Stand, Sit, Down, Sit, Stand, Down, Stand.
Vary the routine! Dogs are very good at learning routines and changing the order of your training routine (sit, down, stand, down, sit, stand, etc.) helps to keep your dog’s attention. It also ensures that your dog will learn the correct cue for each position change.