Though all dogs should know all four basic commands, sit will be the first you might work on in a training class. Once your dog knows sit, he can easily learn to stay put with the ‘stay’ command, he could lie down with the ‘down’ command, and he could move forward to you with the ‘come’ command. Sit is a foundation for the basic commands your dog will need to know for obedience training. Sit is an easy command to teach. You will need to practice with lots of repetition and commitment. Be prepared to reward your dog for his positive behavior when you ask him to sit. Because your dog might not have the attention span to learn sit in one session, you may need to have several sessions over a few weeks to teach sit. Be sure to use sit every day to keep your dog well-rehearsed.
I just got Ace about 3 weeks ago. He has had 2 previous owners, but was not given up through any fault of his own. In fact, he is a pretty good dog. He came to me housebroken and knowing how to sit and lie down, and I’ve been able to teach him a few new things since. He is always very responsive to these commands when we are out in the backyard. However, when in the house and especially when on walks he refuses to obey the sit command. I thought it may be an issue of being distracted when on walks, so I began working on his walking skills, teaching him to pause when I pause and to watch me. He does this really well most of the time, but even with treats, I cannot get him to sit down. Once he is watching me I give a treat to him for the watch command but when I tell him to sit, he just looks away even though he knows I have another treat in my hand. Even when I kneel down to get his full attention, he still refuses to sit and needs a nudge on the bum every time to get him to comply. Maybe he just doesn’t like sitting on sidewalk cement? The same goes for when we are in the house. Our whole house is linoleum, so maybe he just doesn’t like to sit on that either? (The area in the backyard where he does comply has a rug down, so I am wondering if he only knows how to sit on carpet.) What do you think? Is he too distracted or is he picky about the substance he sits on or is it something else? How can I get him to sit no matter where we are?
Hello Stacy, The issue might be a bit of both. What it probably boils down to is that he does not want to sit because he is distracted and it is uncomfortable. In the backyard is is more comfortable and he has formed a habit of sitting so does not think about whether or not he wants to as much. The reward of the treat in other situations probably does not outweigh his displeasure with sitting and the reward of the distractions, so he chooses not to sit. To deal with this he needs practice sitting in a variety of locations so that he builds a habit of sitting whenever told to. It ought to become more of an immediate response and less of something that he has to think about. So practicing in a variety of locations is key. The second thing that he probably needs is to learn that sitting is not optional. If he sits, you will often make it worth his while by continuing your walk or by giving him a treat, a pet, or praise, but even if he does not want to sit and does not care about the reward he still has to sit when told to, and he can take or leave the reward. When you tell him to sit, make sure that he does it and do not show him a treat until after he sits. If he does not sit and you know that he heard you, then stand still, tighten up his leash so that he cannot move around or sniff things and will get bored, and if he is looking at something, then stand in front of him to block his view, then simply wait one minute, until he sits. As soon as he sits, reward him with a treat or by letting him continue the walk or by letting him look at whatever was distracting him. Use whatever he wants as the reward within reason. If he does not sit after one minute, then cup one hand underneath his chin and place the fingers from your other hand on either side of his tail bone, where his tail meets his back. Lift up his chin a bit and apply inward and downward pressure to the sides of the base of his tail. Do this until he sits to get away from the pressure. The idea is to apply a bit of pressure to make him uncomfortable so that he will choose to sit on his own to escape it. This way he is having to make the decision himself to sit. Both the waiting and the pressure are important, because you want him to think about what you said and what he is doing, that is why you wait before applying any pressure, to give him time to think about what he should be doing. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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