No Stinkin' Leashes Moderator
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: SF Bay Area
I do understand what you're saying, and what he's doing is pretty typical - most of us start training our dogs with them right in front of us, basically toe to toe, so that becomes part of how the dog learns the command. If they're a few feet away they run to us and sit in front because they've learned the command in a very context specific way, which is why generalizing is an important step with any command. Once he's reliable in one context, change it up. He sits in front of you? Great - how about at your side in heel position? How about when he's in the car, or you're sitting on the couch, or laying on the floor? Standing on a chair? With your back turned? Use your imagination!
When you feel that he understands and has fully generalized the command you can start working on it at a distance. Keep in mind that any time you change the criteria (adding distance, duration or distraction) it's new to the dog, so you may have start at the beginning again, using hand signals as a reminder even though he's consistently responding to a verbal cue at that point.
There are a couple of ways to teach distance commands that I know of, others may know of more. I usually have a pretty strong stay command so I can combine that with whatever else I'm teaching - I have the dog stay, (it sometimes helps to use a hand signal here, like a traffic cop would signal you to stop) back away a few feet, and then command sit or down or whatever I'm working on. Work pretty close at first before adding distance, and if he starts to move forward, step in and back him up to the original place. I like to use a negative marker (often referred to as a "no-reward" marker) which lets the dog know that they've done the wrong thing and will not get a reward. So as I'm moving towards the dog after he breaks I say "ah, ah" (or "oops" or "wrong", whatever you want to use), and put him back in place.
Another way is to tether him to something with the leash so he CAN'T move towards you. In either case, step in to reward him and then step back again.
Keefer 8/25/05-4/24/19 ~ The sweetest boy
Halo 11/9/08-6/17/18 ~ You left pawprints on our hearts
Dena 9/12/04-10/4/08 ~ Forever would have been too short