My Dog Lays Down When She’s in a Sit Command Whenever I Walk Away

QUESTION:

I’m on day one of training. My 5-year-old Puggle knows the basic Sit, Down, and Stay commands, but I have a question relating to Sit. Whenever I place my dog in a sit position and then tell her to stay, she lays down as I walk away from her. Is this ok? That is, if I ask for a Stay and Chloe decides to lay down to wait for me until I release her, is that acceptable?

 

ANSWER:

The first answer is no, it’s not okay for your dog to lay down after you’ve given her a specific sit command – even if you also give a stay command and walk away. The dog needs to obey the exact command you give and not turn the command into a different behavior.

Having said this, however, I always stress (as you’ll note in my Perfect Dog DVDs) that “Sit” is not a command I use regularly. Dogs are naturally more comfortable and at peace laying down, so I generally only use the down command once a dog knows all of the commands and is well into the training program. This is much fairer on the dog versus asking the dog to sit all of the time.

If I do ever use the sit command, I don’t ask the dog to stay in the position for very long. Whereas, a dog can stay in the down command very comfortably for a long period of time. Also, if I’m doing advanced down command work with a more experienced dog whereby I’m working on especially long down commands, I actually allow the dog to lay on his side (versus upright) while he waits for the proper release – as long as the dog stays in the same location where he was asked to “Down/Stay.” I don’t correct the dog, forcing him to stay constantly upright.

I encourage dog owners not to be drill sergeants. We are to care for our dogs and help them to enjoy being obedient to us, and being comfortable in the locations we’ve asked them to stay is part of this care. The focus should be on building and maintaining respect for us as their trusted pack leaders – not on perfect posture.

Going back to the subject of the sit command, watch dog owners carefully and you’ll observe that many of them are virtually obsessed with getting their dogs to sit. They ask their dogs to do this constantly, or at least many times throughout the day. For some, it might be a way of showing off their dogs’ perceived obedience/intelligence, yet for others, it’s an attempt to keep their dogs in control. This second group of people subconsciously – or consciously – anticipate misbehavior from their dogs, so they use the “Sit” command to distract their dogs before their pets do the wrong thing – as opposed to doing what I teach (i.e. giving your dog the chance to make a mistake and then correcting for the mistake with a view to teaching your dog to exercise self-control out of respect for you as his leader.)

Neither of these scenarios (using commands to “show off” your dog, or implementing a “diversion technique”) is the sign of a healthy relationship between dog and owner. I always stress that’s it’s important to do what’s in the best interests of your dog and also what’s conducive to maximizing a harmonious and prosperous long-term relationship with your pet. Given this, I tell dog owners that it’s good for a dog to learn to recognize and properly respond to a “Sit” command – including the combined Sit/Stay; however, it’s NOT a primary command that should be used regularly thereafter.

Also, seeing that you’re only on Day #1 of the training, the following information copied from my website may also help you:

ESSENTIAL TRAINING TIPS:

To ensure training success, please note the following:

  • Before beginning any training, thoroughly read the Essential Reading Quick Start Guide which contains a training plan and critical pointers. All systems purchased from the official distributor contain the Quick Start Guide.
  • Before beginning any training, watch both Perfect Dog® training DVDs in their entirety at least once through, preferably twice. Even segments you may feel are unrelated to your dog’s issues still contain important information that will help you in other areas.
  • If your dog is particularly challenging, and/or if your dog is showing any signs of aggression, please take note of the specialized techniques discussed under “Equipment” on DVD #1.
  • If you initially purchased a Perfect Dog Starter Kit (which includes a Command Collar & 30-minute introductory DVD) and you need to obtain the complete Perfect Dog DVD set (which includes 5 hours of training instruction – 70+ lessons), please visit the “Accessories” page at www.ThePerfectDog.com. A variety of other training items are available from that page including extra equipment sets (Command Collar & Freedom Training Lines set) for those with more than one dog.

– Don Sullivan “The DogFather”

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