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.
St. Louis, MO
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Luca says, "Arf!"