Have you ever hired on at a new job, only to find your trainer went over things only once or twice before rushing you to the next task? When you ask again how to work the cash register, or perhaps which program your supposed to use on the computer, your trainer becomes annoyed, as if you should have already memorized this task.
We often put ourselves, our children, and our dogs through this without thinking about the consequences. How many kids memorize the wording on whole books to please their parents, when despite this excellent exercise in memory, they still don’t know how to read?
Just like we have to learn the alphabet before we can be expected to read, our dogs need to learn how to sit before they can learn how to stay, and that “Sit” means to sit whenever asked, not just when you have a cookie in your hand and there is nothing better to do.
Most likely, your pet already knows what I like to call, “the level 1 sit.” That means in the privacy of your own home, when no one else is watching and there are no distractions, your dog can perform sit for at least 0.5 seconds. He knows that “Sit” means to apply his bottom to the floor, but he’s very easily distracted and gets back up immediately after sitting.
Almost all dogs are trained to this level, and some dogs can even perform the 1-second-sit in public. The vast majority of dogs I see every day can’t achieve more than a few seconds in a public setting, and most dogs are not trained for sit beyond that.
But they really should be.
Imagine that you have a dog who has sit trained to the maximum degree, but he knows nothing else. Suppose he gets loose in the parking lot and has no recall! No problem. Put him in sit and walk up to him to leash him up.
A great sit can turn a random moment into a family portrait.
He’s off leash (probably illegally, just saying) and about to throw himself on some hikers who definitely don’t want your dog’s super sharp nails digging into their shoulders? No problem. Instead of hollering “He’s friendly!” as he mauls them with his tongue, you put him in sit, leash him up, and hope they’re not cops.
You’re trying to leave the groom salon and he’s about to haul you bodily across the floor? No problem. Ask for sit every 3-4 steps before the leash gets tugged.
Bonus: You can pay for your nail trims or wait in line at the cash register without worrying about what he’s going to pee on.
In our pet training series, we are going to go over the basics of training sit/down/come/stay, and show you how to get from level 1 to level 10. Each step should be small enough for even the less gifted of pets to be able to bridge, and by the time you finish you should have a well mannered dog.