Monday, April 17, 2017

Teaching a Dog to Sit

Imagine this...if you say "sit" and press on your dog's back end, forcing him to get in a sit position, releasing the pressure only once his rearend is on the ground, your dog may learn to sit on cue (this is an example of negative reinforcement - you release the pressure to reinforce the correct behavior of sitting).  However!!! --  if your dog sits only to prevent you from pushing on him/her, do you think "sit" carries a pleasant association?  It actually teaches the dog to have a negative association to you, because s/he knows that if the sit doesn't happen, you are going to force it.

A better way to teach sit is through lure-reward training, made famous by Dr. Ian Dunbar.

How to teach a sit:

1.    Wait for your dog to sit!
2.    When s/he does, the second s/he does, reward with a word like "yes" and "good" and give a treat.

If s/he is still not sitting after a few minutes, you can lure the behavior:

1.    Stand in front of the dog, show him/her the treat
2.    Move the treat from the nose to just behind his eyebrows - which makes the head go up and the bottom go down!

3.    When s/he sits,  use your reinforcer word and treat!
4.    After s/he has done this about fifteen times say the word “Sit” in a happy but calm voice just when you start moving the treat from his/er nose to his eyebrows.

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