Why teach your dog to sit (or another strong behaviour)?

Whenever I train a new dog, I always place great emphasis on one behaviour over any other…and that is the Sit.  I work really hard to get the dog to sit in-front, behind, at the side, away from me, with duration, and have the ability to sit anywhere that I ask on the first request and fast.

But why is this so important.  I believe that when you have a dog, you should always have safety at the back of your mind. Safety for both of you, not just yourself.  So here are some of the many reasons why I train dogs to have a really strong sit:

Sit at the doorway

  • To allow you to enter or exit the doorway either first or last (your choice).  If they are sitting at the doorway, it means that if you have your hands full, you can walk through the doorway safely without having a dog trip you over halfway through.
  • If you have multiple dogs that are sitting at the door waiting to go out, it allows you to release them individually when you say their name…this one takes a bit of practice
  • If you have friends coming round, you don’t want a dog to be jumping up on them, so ask the dog to sit at the doorway and allow your friends to enter before you release your dog

Sit before exiting the car:

  • If the leash is not already attached to the dog, asking the dog to sit allows you to attach the leash
  • A training opportunity where the dog doesn’t get out of the car before it has presented you with a really strong sit…there is a really strong and exciting reward outside of the car (unless you are at the vets but that’s another blog)

Sit anywhere:

  • Practice the sitting both on and off leash everywhere that you go.  Do this is small chunks though, do not go from the lounge to the local park and expect your dog to sit the same as it does at home
  • Practice in the kitchen, lounge, balcony, back and front garden, etc. and get them consistent in each of those places
  • Practice the sit in different rooms in the house, then ask for the sit whilst you are not in the room.  Use someone else or a camera to check that they are sitting, but only try this exercise once the dog is working well
Most importantly, if you have a strong sit (or other behaviour) it means that you have the ability to stop your dog in its tracks and prevent it from running across a road and being hit or causing an accident, or chasing animals…don’t let this happen to you….Fenton

Dog Training Classes…

Dog Training Classes…

Were you given a puppy or did you go to the local pound or SPCA and adopted a dog, or two, recently and now second guessing that decision or wondering what happens next?

Where have all the ‘plug and play’ dogs gone where they knew how to sit, play with other dogs, down and were house trained when you got them?  Unfortunately…they never existed, and what’s more you, the owner, needs to put in a lot of time into training of the dog so it becomes a polite member of the family.

How can you train them?
Well usually it becomes the responsibility of someone within the family to train the dog the basics (house training, sit, down, come back when called, no biting to start with), but where do you go to learn how to train your puppy or dog these behaviours?

There are numerous trainers around NZ that can help you with the training of your puppy or dog, from your local vet clinic through to professional dog trainers and dog behaviourists…but which one is best for your family and dog?

Find a Local Class that suits you and your Family

Get a Referral: Ask friends and family who have a dog where they took their dog to and what they liked about their classes.

Search for trainers in your area: Go through the Yellow Pages or Surf the internet to find dog clubs, trainers or classes in your area.

Once you have found the classes in your area, contact them and find out when their classes start and go and watch them teaching a class.  If they won’t let you watch a class, then ask yourself, what do they have to hide?

When watching the class:

  • how many trainers do they have to class members, a good gauge is 1 trainer to 6, max of 8 attendees with dogs
  • Is all the family included in the training classes?  Having young and older children in the class gives more training opportunities to everyone with their dogs
  • Are they teaching the class about dogs’ body language and how to read and understand it?
    Miscommunication is one of the major causes of ‘dogs behaving badly’.  We may have taught them the wrong behaviour, or the dogs don’t understand what is being asked of them
  • Do they give the class attendees information at the end of the class with further information on what they have learned during the class?
  • Is the class run ‘on’ or ‘off” leash? Do they ask for the dogs to have a flat collar or a choke chain?  Do they have ‘controlled’ off leash sessions for the puppies, so they don’t get out of hand?
  • Do they use touch to apply pressure to the dog for it to learn how behaviours such as Sit and Down, or do they use food as a lure, or clicker training?
  • And most importantly do the people at the course look like they are having fun and enjoying themselves and can you talk to some of them to get an their opinion of the classes and how they are run?

These are all questions that you can ask yourself whilst watching or when you contact the training facility.  The main question you have to answer is: Does this training class use training methods that fit with your family and going to help us have a safe and friendly dog?

There is no fast and easy solution to training your dog, but with a good dog training class and lots of practice, both you and your dog will grow a happy and long partnership.