Want to know the quickest, easiest way to transform you dog's behavior? Simply ask your dog to sit in front of you if he wants to be petted. Sit-for-Pets is a a very simple and easy way to teach your puppy to always approach you or another person and sit nicely to wait for attention, pets and love. The most common behavior complaints that people have about their dogs are jumping and barking for attention, but both of these can be easily fixed by asking your dog to automatically approach you and sit if they want attention. You're probably thinking, "But that's way too easy! My dog is terrible and won't stop jumping on me no matter what I do!". Remember that the key to successful dog training is to turn a negative situation into a positive one so that you're better able to communicate to your dog what you want him to do in place of the undesirable behavior. For instance, instead of saying "I hate it when my dog jumps on me," switch it to "I love it when my dog approaches me calmly and sits and waits to be petted." So the first step is to identify a solution to the problem and the next step is to execute it and extinguish the 'bad' behavior.
Dogs learn by repetition and consistency so it's very important to be mindful of your everyday interactions with your dog. By training yourself not to pet your dog absentmindedly, you will be learning to save your 'pets' for your dog's good behaviors throughout the day. I can't tell you how many people absentmindedly pet their dog whenever their dogs use 'pushy' and demanding behavior. Then they ask me why their dogs bark for attention, paw and scratch, whine etc. It's because they've been rewarding the behavior without even knowing it! People often worry about always having to use treats to get their dogs to do things. First of all, this means that you have not been successful in phasing out the food reward and second of all, this means that your dog is being spoiled and not treated. Phase out the use of food rewards by replacing the food with pets, toys or life rewards (getting the leash on, going outside, greeting another dog etc.). If you give out free pets all day long, you just might be rewarding your dog for unwanted behaviors, like pawing and begging for attention with barking. If you become mindful about only petting your dog for good behaviors, your dog's behavior will be positively reinforced all day long and not only in your training sessions.
Don't worry! This doesn't mean that you'll never be petting your dog, quite the opposite! Be prepared to pet your dog even more love throughout the day. You dog will love getting attention for being calm and polite and will be automatically sitting in front of you in no time, looking for more belly rubs and pats. If you are extremely consistent about only petting your dog when he is sitting calmly, your dog will learn how to greet you more politely when you walk in the door at the end of the day, when he comes running up to you from a full sprint, when guests come to your house and when you're out and about greeting people on the street. It all starts with you learning how to always ask your dog to sit before giving him pets.
Sadie, Samantha, Bailey and Bernini showing off their Zen Sit-for-Pets skills.
If your dog's rear end pops up the second you touch him, calmly stand up and stop petting. As soon as he sits again, start petting. If he gets up, remove your hand again, until he learns that sitting calmly with his bottom glued to the floor is the best way to be petted. Dogs who jump up and get really excited may need a lot more reinforcement in the beginning of these exercises and may need a food reward dropped on the ground by your feet as they approach you. Keeping dropping treats on the ground as he approaches so that he is thinking about keeping his paws on the floor and not on your pants. Once your dog is approaching you calmly and thinking that good things come from the ground (and not up by your hands and face- the reason why dogs want to jump up in the first place), start asking him to sit and then give a treat right to his mouth so that he is not encouraged to jump up and grab it from your hand. As he learns to sit politely, extend the amount of time that you feed the treat so that he is learning to stay seated in front of you for a longer period before he earns the treat. Once your dog knows that sitting in front of you is the only way that he will earn your rewards and attention, start using just pets.
Other exercises that you can do include backing away from your dog and then as he approaches you wait calmly for him to automatically sit. Then treat or pet and then repeat the exercise. Keep practicing moving around and freezing until your dog automatically sits in front of you before rewarding him. If your dog doesn't seem very motivated, make your movements quick and fun so that they are following you around happily and waiting for you to stop so that he can sit. Make it into a fun game and your dog will be politely and automatically sitting like a little gentleman in no time!
Weave Sit-for-Pets into your daily life with your dog and you will see a dramatic change in your dog's behavior and happiness. A sitting dog is a good dog and a Zen dog.