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 :)