The Value of a Well Disciplined Sit for your Dog. - Jim Burwell’s Petiquette

The sit command is the easiest obedience command to teach a dog and yet most people don’t teach a well disciplined sit to their dog. Most people teach their dogs to sit as young puppies so dogs are already very familiar with the behavior and very comfortable doing it because everything positive has been associated with the sit command – food, treats, praise, etc. When I think of problem solving dog behavior you would be surprised how many dog behaviors you can stop with a well disciplined sit. Dogs jumping, dogs running out the front door, dog aggression and yes, even dog barking just to name a few can be solved with the basic obedience command of sit. Think about it for a moment, if your dog is sitting, he can’t jump. The two behaviors are mutually exclusive. The same goes with aggressing on another dog.

When people are obedience training a dog to sit, the ball is usually dropped in a couple of ways; weaning dogs off food treats and distraction training. To wean your dog off food treats, put y our dog on a variable treating schedule once you have taught your dog the obedience command you want.  As you progress make sure the dog is obeying the obedience commands without treats when you have the dog on a voice and hand signal. But here’s where the real work begins – distraction training. A well disciplined sit means your dog has been proofed to obey the obedience command you have given around all the distractions that are relevant to you and to which he will have been exposed.

Here are some helpful tips:

  • Always obedience train your dog on a leash or line so you will be able to reinforce commands. As your dog becomes more reliable you can move to off leash.
  • Remember the 3D formula for distraction training: duration, distractions and distance. You build time first (5minute sit/stay) then add distractions before you add distance from the dog. And remember,

Because dogs don’t generalize well, you must always vary:

  • The level of distraction
  • The locations in which you obedience train
  • Your orientation to and distance from the dog
  • Command elements such as tone of voice and handlers (different family members as required)

While this all sounds like a lot of work, it probably is. But it’s all relative to your dog behavior problems and your willingness to live with the dog behavior problem(s) or fix them and dramatically improve your relationship with your dog. A simple sit can solve many problems but successful dog behavior modification will ultimately always begin and end with 100% owner compliance. We can help you all along the way.