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The value of 'Sit!'

So I've been thinking about our dogs...

Nothing new there....I'm always thinking about dogs :)

I was out walking my two little dogs today when I watched a lady with a labrador on a short lead

And every time they crossed a road she made him sit..

And I wondered why

Sit is the most overused training cue I've ever seen

I think, as humans, we've been conditioned to believe it gives us control

I guess it visually does

But sitting does not come naturally to our dogs

It is actually a very vulnerable position for them to be in.

Think about it...if your dog is sitting at the kerb and a large, noisy lorry rumbles by he cannot step back and create space

If your nervous dog is sitting as a stranger approaches they cannot back away and retreat

The choice of fight or flight is compromised

And this can increase reactivity

Sure, sitting can be harmless enough...think of the confident, cheeky dog sitting because he is pretty sure it will get him a treat...


As with all things dog

Context and environment are key

Think about how many things we expect our dogs to sit for

  • Before his dinner

  • To put on his lead

  • To get in/out of the car

  • To greet people

  • To cross the road

Sitting in lots of these situations can cause frustration. Imagine asking your toddler to sit still when they know they are going to the park, or being made to sit and wait whilst a plate of delicious food is placed in front of you, and you are hungry.

Think about why you are asking your dog to sit.

Is it necessary?

Is there another behaviour that would work better? (an excited greeter can be taught to keep all paws on the floor and given an outlet for their excitement through carrying a toy, for example)

Let's allow our dogs more choices

Trust me, you'll be surprised :)

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