Jump! Jump! Jump!

Teach your dog to greet your holiday guests with four paws firmly on the ground!

Training Goal:  Glue that doggie’s butt to the ground!  Teach your dog to sit calmly as guests enter your home for the holidays. 

Training Step #1: The Sit

Ask most pet parents if their dog can sit, and the answer is a resounding yes! Of course they can sit, but do they really understand the cue “sit?” In other words, do they respond quickly to the cue no matter where you are or what is going on? Test your dogs’ skills. Stand completely still (so you are using your voice to cue your dog and not any hand or body signals (unless that is what you have purposely taught), and ask your dog to sit.  Does he? If the answer is yes, give yourself a cookie and then test the following:

  1. Responds quickly with one cue, “Sit,” not after several cues “Sit, sit, sit?”
  2. Responds quickly regardless of whether you are standing, sitting or lying down when you cue them?
  3. Responds quickly in at least 20 different locations? In your house? Back yard?  Front yard? PetsMart? Friends’ house? Dog or local park? Training class? If there is another dog present? 

If your dog does not have a solid Sit, your focus for the first week of training will be the following:

  1. Carry training rewards with you at all times. (Training reward ideas: Ziwi Peak dog food, Red Barn dog food roll, Wellness Bites, Real Meat jerky treats, Zukes training rewards, cheese, cooked chicken breast)
  2. Reinforce every time your dog puts his butt on the ground, whether you cued him or he offered it on his own.

Training Step #2: The Long Sit

Start training by the front door, ideally where you would like your dog to sit when guests arrive. Gather your dog, on or off leash, and several pea-sized training rewards (cooked chicken breast, cheese, or other high-value rewards are ideal for most dogs).

Cue or wait for your dog to sit. When he does say “yes” or “good” and reward, then count to one or two — if he is still sitting reward again, count to one or three, and if he’s still sitting reward again and then give a release cue (“release,” “free,” “all done,” or “okay” work fine). Repeat this process, gradually increasing the amount of time between treats. Always remember to reward while your dog is still sitting and to release him before he gets up.

Training Step #3: Adding Guests

Once your dog will easily sit until he is released by the front door recruit some friends to help you practice your new sitting skills.

For a longer version of this lesson, including problem-solving tips, e-mail  jen@dogandcat.org.

Jennifer Biglan is a certified pet dog trainer and owner of Dog & Cat, LLC Training & Behavior Modification services in Eugene, OR. She is the proud guardian of two dogs and three cats, and provides private training, behavior consultations and group classes. Contact Jennifer at 541-686-6768 or jen@dogandcat.org. Or visit www.dogandcat.org.