24 November 2011

Teaching your dog to sit

Your goal is to train your dog to SIT within a few seconds of your command. You will be practicing with your dog to SIT – even with some small distractions – for one-minute.

Difficulty: One Paw(Easy)

Supplies: Your dog, Leash, Yummy Treats, Enthusiasm, Patience.

Time Required: 5- to 10-minutes at a time for three to five practice session a day, every day – yes, every day – until your dog understands what SIT is all about.

"SIT" is the easiest command a puppy can learn and is a great first command to teach. In my classes, students are encouraged to use SIT as a default command, which means when the dog doesn’t know what to do in a new situation, SIT is a good response. The default SIT will help your dog be successful in stressful situations for your and him. Even though we talked about SIT being easy for puppies to learn, you can successfully teach dogs of any age.

How To:Preparation: Get your tasty soft treats (cheese, hot dogs, soft dog training treats) that you've cut into bite sized pieces – think no bigger than a pea – ready in your pocket or training pouch. Have your dog on a leash (I like a leather lead.) in front of you.

1.      With your dog in front of you, hold your tasty treat above the dog’s nose, just out of reach.
2.      Move the treat over your dog’s head in a straight line toward the tail. Think of a straight line from nose to tail. If you are doing this correctly, your dog will need to back up or sit to be able to keep his eyes trained on the treat.
3.      Once your dog’s rump hits the floor, praise and treat. Be sure your dog is still sitting when you give the treat so you are rewarding the SIT behavior.
4.      Add your SIT command once the dog starts offering the SIT behavior. Your voice should be businesslike for the command, and happy-go-lucky for praise. “Spot, SIT.” Then SIT happens and you get to praise and treat. Initially, you’ll treat for every sit, just like a Coca-Cola machine. As the dog improves, you will become more like a slot machine with random rewards like every third or fifth sit. Remember to vary your slot machine rewards so your dog doesn’t anticipate.
5.      Repeat the steps throughout the day. I like short sessions doing five sits in a row and doing it three-to-five times throughout the day. Your goal is to have your dog sit quickly and reliably. Once your dog sits reliably, you’ll want to have him sit longer before treats and become a slot machine with treats rather than a Coca-Cola machine.

Consider this:
  • Training: Dog sees food (also called a “lure”) and the food encourages the SIT to happen. This is luring. Luring is a great place to start your dog’s training. You’ll want to shift to dog hears SIT (or sees SIT hand signal) and sitting makes the food reward happen. This is the real meaning of rewards in training. 

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