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  • Writer's pictureLiz MacHaffie

"Say Please": Teach your pup great manners!

Wouldn't it be great if your dog could ask politely for what he wants, instead of jumping, mouthing, or barking? You can teach him to sit to do just that!

Week 1: Ask Your Dog to Sit ​

  • For about 7 days, ask your dog to sit for the things he really wants.

  • Here are some examples of what you might ask him to sit for:

  • Being pet.

  • To have a toy given to him or thrown for him.

  • To have his leash put on. (Only if he likes it!)

  • To sniff something he is really interested in that you’re holding.

  • To have the door open to go outside.

  • When he sits, immediately provide his reward! (If you wait too long while he’s learning, this may frustrate him. You can add more time later.)

  • If he doesn’t sit, avoid asking him repeatedly; just don’t give him the reward he wants. You can try again in a little bit.

  • Don’t ask your dog to sit for things he doesn’t like! This will punish him for listening.

Week 2 and Beyond: Automatic Sits

  • After a week, stop saying “sit” and wait for your dog to offer it on his own.

  • Many dogs will have already started doing this before day 8, and that’s great! Some will need a little bit of patience. If your dog gets frustrated, you can help him out by asking him to sit as a reminder.

  • Our goal is for our pup to automatically offer this behavior when he wants something. It should replace lots of jumping, mouthing, and/or barking!

“Not This Time”

  • We can’t always give our dogs what they want. We might not have time, or they might ask for something they can’t have.

  • We can teach our dogs a phrase that means “Thank you for sitting, but I can’t give you the thing you want right now.” This makes it much less frustrating for them!

  • When your dog sits for something and you cannot give it to him, say “Not this time” and then ignore him. Try to ignore him for at least a couple of minutes.

  • Some people like to add in a hand signal, such as waving one or both open hands.

  • After a few repetitions, you should notice your dog begins to disengage with you instead of continuing to ask for things or getting frustrated.

Tips & Troubleshooting

  • Beware the “extinction burst”! “Extinction” is when an animal stops performing a behavior. Many animals will try a behavior with increased effort just before giving up. (Such as jumping, barking, or whining.) If your dog gets a little worse while you are doing this, hold your course! This is usually a sign they are learning these behaviors don’t work anymore and it’s a little frustrating to them. (If your dog’s behavior is worse for more than 3 days, let us know.)

  • If your dog is not successful, contact your trainer! There are many more tips and tricks that can be used. (Often, all that’s needed is a small tweak.)

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