How strict should I be about a "sit"? - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 14 (permalink) Old 01-28-2008, 02:38 PM Thread Starter
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How strict should I be about a "sit"?

First let me start by saying my pup Ike is now 17 weeks old. Our only intent with him is to have a good family companion. He was 15 weeks when this question came up. Here's the scenario that leads to my question.

I was in obedience class working on the "meet and greet". First, we were to have our pups sit before the greet. Ike knows "sit" and did sit on command, but it was very brief. He very quickly went into a down. I could tell he was feeling bored at the time because we had just finished talking/instruction. So anyway, he was in a down position for the actual greeting. The instructor said, "Is this okay by you? You said "sit" and he is down. He is making his own choice here." She continued to explain that if she had told her dog to sit, she would expect a sit. She said, "If you tell your kids to do something, you expect them to do it , right?" My reply was, "Actually, with kids I've learned to pick and choose my battles. My only hope is that they learn to make good choices." I explained that just minutes before the "meet and greet" I was told that a "down" is a more submissive position than "sit". Therefore (particularly with a "meet and greet"), I believed Ike had made a better choice than I asked for. As I said before, Ike does know "sit" and "down" and does know the difference. At home if he goes into a down after a sit, sometimes I say, "No...I said "sit"." and he immediately pops back up to a sit.

So how strict should I be with my commands? Am I making a big mistake regarding commands and expectations.
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post #2 of 14 (permalink) Old 01-28-2008, 03:00 PM
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Re: How strict should I be about a "sit"?

As far as I am concerned, they need to do what you say. Not make something up on their own. First it is doing a "down" when told to "sit". Next it is NOT coming when told to come. Where do you draw the line? These are dogs, not children. They need to know that YOU are the "boss" and they are expected to do what you say, NOT what THEY choose to do.

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post #3 of 14 (permalink) Old 01-28-2008, 03:08 PM
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Re: How strict should I be about a "sit"?

I have to agree with BlackGSD here, sometimes Mya gets ahead of me during our obedience lessons and i'll tell her to sit, and she does, but then automatically does a down for another treat. I always correct her with a simple "SIT" command and then praise for her doing what i ask.

It is ok for them to move from a sit to a down if you are going to be standing still for a longer period of time i think. For example soemtimes if i want to stop and rest when walking in the park, i'll tell mya to sit, but after a few minutes she will lay down and just kinda chill. Then i really dont mind, but when she does move into her down position i will say "down" just to have her hear the command anyway.

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post #4 of 14 (permalink) Old 01-28-2008, 03:09 PM
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Re: How strict should I be about a "sit"?

You need to decide what you want... a down or a sit and follow through with the command.

BUT-this is a puppy, so I would not be scolding him or giving great big corrections. He needs to be able to sit away from a person for a few seconds before you expect a sit near another person.

Often the down on their own is because they are stressed or because they do not really understand commands and so start offering you behaviors. Offering behaviors is a good thing, it shows the dog is paying attention and is trying to please you. But you can not tell the real reason over the internet. And it could be that he is just very relaxed and bored as you say.

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post #5 of 14 (permalink) Old 01-28-2008, 03:21 PM
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Re: How strict should I be about a "sit"?

I dont have any helpful insight but I am glad you asked the question. I am actually the worst student when it comes to dog training. I also like to pick and choose my battles. I want nothing more than a great companion who is well behaved and can go out in the world with me. If my dog is told to sit and then lays down I dont worry about it because if shes not jumping up all over people and being calm than I am happy. I'm sorry if my answer may bother other people. I just feel like it all depends on what each individual wants from their dog and what you feel is okay. I told my trainer that I am just one of those people who doesnt get bothered by stuff like that and she understands. So I go to training and get lots of knowledge and tools and I fit my training to my lifestyle.

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post #6 of 14 (permalink) Old 01-28-2008, 04:08 PM Thread Starter
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Re: How strict should I be about a "sit"?

Quote:
Originally Posted By: BlackGSDThese are dogs, not children.
I know. I was kind of surprised that she compared the two. I think the comparison is what got me questioning this.

I have never formally trained a dog before. I think I made the mistake of considering the situation before the command. In the moment I was actually thinking, "What a good boy! He's not up, pulling and tugging to sniff. He is actually calm and doing a nice greet." I also thought if this were a child doing the greeting, this is ideal. Ike will be meeting lots of children. Perhaps I should do the "down" command for those greetings.

Thanks for your input.
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post #7 of 14 (permalink) Old 01-28-2008, 04:23 PM Thread Starter
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Re: How strict should I be about a "sit"?

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Originally Posted By: JenniferHI dont have any helpful insight...If my dog is told to sit and then lays down I dont worry about it because if shes not jumping up all over people and being calm than I am happy.
I'm glad you shared your feelings about it because that is what I was thinking. I was happy he was not pulling, jumping and barking. Most likely the sit command will be used primarily as a way to keep him calm or out of the way, so I guess I figured a down is even better.

Thanks for all of the responses. I'm in training too!
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post #8 of 14 (permalink) Old 01-28-2008, 04:32 PM
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Re: How strict should I be about a "sit"?

I think it all depends on what you want from the dog.

If all you want is calm behavior during a greeting, then make up a word that means that--"chill" or something. Then, dog can sit, lie down, anything as long as he's calm.

But I think it may become confusing to the dog if you accept different repsonses for the same word. If "sit" sometimes means sit, but other times it means "down if you want to," then you're giving the dog the responsibility of deciding situationally what you want. In this particular instance, it's probably not that big a deal.

But there will be many instances (especially with an older, larger dog) where you do not want the dog to decide for himself. Knowing a basic list of commands (come, drop it, wait, and a release word) are pretty important to ensure the dogs safety.

So, I think there is some latitude in training. After all, the words themselves don't have any meaning to the dog until you give them meaning. Just make sure that you are consistent. Otherwise, you're going to have a very confused pup. And that's not fair to him.

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post #9 of 14 (permalink) Old 01-28-2008, 04:33 PM
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Re: How strict should I be about a "sit"?

Is it possible that some dogs interpret the sit command as a 'calm' command, not associating it with anything but being quiet and still?
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post #10 of 14 (permalink) Old 01-28-2008, 04:36 PM
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Re: How strict should I be about a "sit"?

Sure, some dogs interpret "sit" to mean "blah blah blah"--it has no meaning at all. No words mean anything to a dog until they are taught what you want it to mean with repetition and reinforcement.

You could teach a dog to sit with the word "lamp" if you want to. Or to bark by saying "sit."

As long as you are consistent, the words themselves don't matter. It only gets messed up if you change things and give the same word different meanings--(i.e. sometimes sit, sometimes down, sometimes settle)

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