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Invisible Dog

 - Canine Behavior -

 "Sit" to say, "Please."

A good start to teaching your dog manners is to consider using the "sit" instruction for when you want your dog to say
, "Please" for things he or she wants

Because we love our dogs, there is a natural tendency to pamper them. We think it's cute when they show us what they want and so we respond by giving it to them. Many dogs misinterpret this loving generosity as subordination and get the wrong message that they are leaders in the relationship. This leads to trouble.

When you
teach your dog to automatically say please by sitting, you dog will learn to ask for permission rather than forgiveness after acting inappropriately. Once your dog consistently sits automatically in the situations described, you can elect to phase it out of your normal routine. However we recommend you periodically remind your dog through out life.

Your dog will respond more to your actions than to your words. Make sure your body language and actions are correct.

We recommend you practice these exercises until your dog will consistently say "please" without you having to cue a sit. Then each time your dog wants something from you all you have to do is wait for him to say "please"!

Where to begin?

Start in a small room prior to a meal. If your dog gets bored and walks off before sitting place your dog on a leash tied to your waist (umbilical tether). Make sure your dog sees you have a treat or meal so that it is apparent what will be earned.  Now hold the treat in your closed hand keeping it still and waist high. Your dog will likely be a little confused and may try to get your attention by jumping, pawing or barking at you. Be still and quiet and ignore all attempts made to get your attention. You may turn your back.

Your dog may get frustrated and give up, looking for something more fun to do. But since your dog is in a small room with you or tied to you if he's hungry enough you can just wait him out and he'll eventually sit. Immediately offer the treat before your dog has a chance to get up.

Now take a few steps backward hiding another treat in your hand and repeat the above exercise. 

After 10 successful repetitions repeat the exercise while hiding the treat in your hand. If your dog wanders you may use your umbilical tether or may attempt a smooching sound. We don't want to teach your pet to ignore their name so do not use their name unless you are 100% certain they will look at you immediately. If smooching doesn't get your dogs attention just be quiet and patient until boredom sets in which results in a sit. When this sit results in a treat appearing you will not have to wait as long the next time!

Each time you start this exercise your dog is likely to start in with the same begging or unruly behavior as before.  When this routine causes your pet to become invisible due to this behavior they will try what worked last time, SITTING!  You just have to be ready to deliver that treat quickly when you get the correct response before your pet has a chance to stand up.

Now, practice this exercise 10 times with a hidden treat with no umbilical tether, and then in various places in the house. By the end of these exercises your dog should know if he offers a sit to "say please" it will result in a reward.  When your pet successfully says please 9 out of 10 times in various places in the house begin to alternate treats and verbal praise or petting.

Remember not to use a verbal cue to "sit" because we do not want to micro-manage the sit.  We want then to "say please" automatically each time they want something from you! Now you should begin to request you pet stay seated until you have acknowledged his request. For instance, when your pet sits for you to open the door, do not reward the sit. Begin to open the door. If your dog stands, close the door. Repeat this exercise until your dog will stay seated with the door wide open until you give a treat and say it is ok to go through. You are teaching a second important lesson here. The door only opens when you are sitting!

Below are the places are that we suggest you wait for your pet to "say please".

  • To receive meals or treats
  • To go through doorways and gates, especially when guests come to the door
  • To greet people
  • To get come out of the kennel
  • To play fetch or tug-o-war
  • To be invited up on the furniture or bed
  • To get a leash on to go for a walk
  • To get in or out of the car

If you are not getting quick sits and do not see a dramatic change within a few days evaluate the following items to determine what may be going wrong.

  • Is your timing off?  Do you give the treat before your pet stands up?
  • Are you and the family consistent? Do you require a sit to earn some privileges but not others?
  • If your dog never sits, are you waiting long enough?  It may take several minutes at first.
  • Are you standing still or moving around while waiting for the sit?  Remember to be still like a statue.
  • Is your dog motivated by the treat? For instance if your pet has no desire to go outside requesting your pet to say please to go out will not work.
  • If your dog is jumping give multiple treats while they are sitting.

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