My dog tends to lay down whenever I give him a “Sit” command. What should I do?
There are a variety of things I would say about this:
1) First review the two different lessons to make sure you have followed the proper techniques for teaching the two different commands. The problem could have originated in the way you first introduced your dog to the commands.
2) If you’ve very recently started the training then it could be a matter of your dog learning to distinguish between commands. If this is the case, simply keep the Freedom Training Line firmly short and use it to guide your dog back and upright into the “Sit” command as I demonstrate on my Perfect Dog DVDs (versus allowing enough slack in the line that permits the dog to lie down). The dog will soon get the idea that there’s a difference between the “Sit” and “Down.”
3) After learning the “Down” position following “Sit,” some of the more compliant dogs tend to favor “Down” because it’s the most submissive position. To counteract this, you can introduce a high-pitched verbal reward (such as a quick “Good!”) just a split second before the dog’s bottom connects with the ground. This will cause your dog to look up at you and realize that you’re very happy with the position he’s currently in. This trick seems to work for those dogs that are being overly submissive once they’ve learned the “Down” position because it reassures them that you’re not always looking for them to lay at your feet. Please note (especially guys with deeper voices!) that the tone for this special verbal reward needs to be very quick and very high pitched.
4) If it has been a while since you began the training and you know your dog clearly understands the difference between the two commands, then the laying down when you give a “Sit” command is most likely an act of defiance. The dog is trying to get out of obeying the “Sit” command by giving you a down instead. In this case, the dog needs to be corrected into the sit position. Review the “Sit” lesson on my Perfect Dog DVDs to refresh yourself on this, and also follow the rest of my advice regarding increasing the level of the corrections until the dog properly complies as instructed.
5) Overall, I actually rarely use the “Sit” command with my dogs. The “Down” command is always the most comfortable and convenient for them, and it’s the one that best demonstrates the dogs’ respect for my leadership. So, it’s the best command to keep using every day. I discuss this in detail in my DVDs, so I encourage you to review the “Sit” lesson for this information.
I hope all of this helps. – Don Sullivan, “The DogFather”
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