Learn how to use a simple “sit” to achieve good doggy manners and safety!
Does your dog know what “sit” means?
- in all social situations and different environments? Probably not! See if you can pass the test.
We do a very limited version of Ian Dunbar’s classic. Simply explain that dogs don’t generalise very well. Just because your dog can sit in the kitchen at dinner time doesn’t mean she can sit at the front door when a visitor arrives, or in the street when you stop to talk to a neighbour. Remind handlers that they should train their dog in different places and situations. Practice their repertoire during a walk. Go to the shops. Ask the dog to sit when a shopper goes past, and so on.
What does “sit” mean?
In some cases, this will be a revision exercise, but people who have not trained with Wagging School before will be unlikely to have been taught the three aspects of sit.
- learn about the three aspects of teaching a dog to sit
- go into the sit position
- maintain it for longer (introduce duration)
- don’t get up until released
- achieve duration and at least some progress on not getting up until released before introducing a greeting, which is a form of distraction – so sit, pause (duration), patting (distraction), reward, release.
The Simple Come and Sit
- teach your dog The Simple Come and Sit and “gotcha!”
People who have attended the Troubleshooting Workshop #4 on Coming When Called will have done The Simple Come and Sit. However, a brief review won’t do any harm.
The purpose of The Simple Come and Sit in this workshop is to introduce sitting as an alternative to jumping up on the owner. We can then move on to sitting to say hello to other people. First we get the handler to pat the dog when he or she is sitting.
Things to look out for:
- It is common for the dog to sit, but then to either jump up or mouth the person’s hands when the person leans over or tries to pat the dog.
- To start with, the handler should hold a treat in their right hand, close to the dog’s nose, but not give it immediately.
- Slowly and calmly, the handler should slide their left hand down and gently take the dog’s collar. This is done to prevent the dog from jumping up (and contacting the handler’s nose) – then give the dog the treat
- The handler should be told how to pat the dog – avoid quick or agitated movement around the dog’s head and face, or in the dog;s line of sight, which is visually stimulating and physically annoying, and stimulates the dog to mouth the person’s hands – calm stroking on the neck or chest is more calming.
“Gotcha!” is used to get the dog used to being grabbed. Make sure this is done by starting with a low key form of contact and gradually up the ante. Be on the lookout for dogs that are head shy or sensitive to handling.
Sit to say hello
- teach your dog to sit to say hello instead of jumping up on people, including children and the elderly
- The instructor can approach the handler and dog.
- Explain that making contact is a reward, and it is important to reward sitting, and to avoid accidentally rewarding the dog for jumping up. The handler should stand still and hold the lead steady, keeping her hands close to her body – i.e. not following the dog forward. The instructor then approaches, but steps back out of range if the dog gets up. It should be clear that the dog will sit more often as a result of this.
- Tether the dogs and have the owner approach their own dog, patting if the dog sits, stepping away if the dog gets up.
- Then ask handlers to circulate and approach each others dogs. Be careful toidentify dogs that might not be safe or ready to be approached by a stranger.
- Explain “calming signals” to handlers i.e. approach in a curve, stand in a relaxed way, slightly side-on, avoid eyeballing the dog, chat to the dog in a relaxed, calm, low-key but friendly way; strangers should offer a treat with one hand, and give a low-key pat with the other.
- If the problems is excitement, have a handler run up and down the line of dogs, being stimulating and exciting. Children can be recruited to do this. Have someone give the dog a treat if he or she sits calmly rather than jumping or reacting to the provocation.
Aunty Kaye’s Top Ten Uses of the Sit in practical pet training
Traditional obedience classes teach the dog to sit, but do not give the owners any idea of how to make use of the sit.
Educate handlers about how to greet dogs
- Learn how to approach a dog and how not to approach a dog.
- Teach your children and friends the right and wrong way to greet a dog.
- Read your dog’s body language – understand the warning signs and opt for safety.
- BUT condition the dog as much as possible to be used to challenging approaches.
The handout about sit to say hello includes posters about how to meet and greet. It would be a good idea to have some enlarged versions available to show the class and explain.
Reading: to be continued.