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You want to teach your dog to sit and stay.  She already knows “sit” because you’ve been telling her to do so before you put her dinner bowl down, before you hook on her leash, even before you toss a ball.  Stay, you think, is going to be harder.  It’s going to take longer.  You know that a leash is a good idea when teaching a new command, so you hook on the leash.  You tell her to sit.  You use your voice and a hand signal to tell her to stay.  And since this is going to take a while, you sit down.

And your dog breaks.

No matter what’s in fashion now, dogs are still dogs and they still respect size, seriousness, posture.  They are readers extraordinaire of where your attention lies, of mood and, yes, of status.  So while my ultimate training goal is to be able to get a cheerful, prompt response to a basic command when my dog is off leash and I am lying on the ground, I don’t start out that way.  I use everything I have that my dog will pay attention to to get and hold her attention and to let her know I mean what I say.  I stand tall.  I use one or two word commands (but never “sit down”).  I keep my attention on the task at hand.  And so does my dog.

Have a comfy seat and think about lunch when training your dog?  Not such a good idea.  Using posture, voice, attention, intelligence, seriousness and a deep understanding of when your dog is stressed, excellent idea.  Knowing when enough’s enough.  Good enough.  Knowing how to say “Good dog!” from the bottom of your heart?  Perfect.  Just perfect – you and your dog both.

 

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