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I wanted to share a training technique that I have come across that I have not heard many trainers talk about.

Just sitting. A couple of weeks ago I asked a question on the forum about ideas for tiring my 10-month-old pup out. Someone suggested changing things up and do unexpected things so pup doesn't settle into a routine. (At least that is how I read the advice)

Now, sometimes instead of a walk or hike, we just go somewhere and hangout. We might spend an hour sitting on the lawn. sometimes we go to a park and sit at a picnic table. When we do this I usually have pup on a long lead so he has an area he can explore. Over time, he settles down. Generally, after 10-15 minutes he just sits down and looks around. If we are somewhen that he feels particularly comfortable, he might even lie down.

My pup was pretty high energy and high drive so all of our activities involved some sort of movement. Interestingly, once he figured out how to hang out, pup seems to really enjoy it. He will just sit and watch with great interest what is happening around him. He is calm yet very focused on watching his surroundings. After a 'Hang Out' pup will come home as exhausted as if he spent the entire time running around. He will sleep for hours.

I not sure how well this fits into programs where people want their dogs to ignore their surroundings and pay attention to them. But for my companion dog training, it seems to be a useful addition. Pup seems to process what he has seen so that next time he comes across that same thing, he understands what it will do. So he can handle it calmly

NOTE: This does not apply to babies and small children. Every time he sees a little human squeaking like a toy and darting around like a crazed squirrel... He can't figure out what they are up to.
 

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I've also learned that passive exercise can be exhausting for a dog. My boy is 21 months now, but I'll take him out somewhere and put him on a down. He's free to look around, but really needs to think about holding his down. I love watching him as something catches his attention but he stops himself and looks toward me.
 

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This activity is known as 'sit on the dog'.It's great for helping a restless dog learn to settle.I imagine that just hanging out involves quite a bit of mental energy expended sorting through a myriad of scents and sounds.I enjoy watching mine swiveling their ears and catching scents when we're chilling in the yard.
 

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I used this technique on both my rescues because I wanted to know how they handled a myriad of strange people and
just watching the world go by.

I'd take them to a Walmart and sit on the bench outside the door. Amazing the stuff you see go by.
They also learned that outside strange people are no threat in public. Same with strange vehicles.

You can watch your dog's reaction to lots of things, Surprised that I learned from her expressions that her former owner
was "probably" a dark skinned man with little kids and a white pickup truck. She told me all this by her reactions.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Interesting. Sit on the Dog. It certainly seems beneficial for my pup. It might not be as fun as fetch, tug, or a nice hike. But he seems to be figuring out that it is more interesting than being at home looking out the window. I hadn't thought of it before... he does seem to be getting better at not always needing to be in the center of the action or the center of my attention.

This evening I tried to build on the idea by letting pup hangout with me in the yard while I spread mulch on the flower beds. Normally when I work in the gardens pup watches out the window. Keeping track of the shovel, rake, wheelbarrow, and dog was a bit too much for me to handle.
 

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Lol!When Samson was younger he would steal my gardening tools and keep pulling things out of the wheelbarrow.Now he'll lay in the shade and watch me.
 

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I've never understood it being referred to as "sit on the dog". That doesn't make sense to me - you're not sitting ON the dog, you're sitting WITH the dog! I just think of it as learning to relax and chill. Whether it's in the house, outside in the yard, or someplace else where you and your dog can hang out and simply watch the world go by, I think it's definitely beneficial to work on. Think of "calm" as simply behavior, to be trained and reinforced just like any other behavior.
 
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That's really interesting. I'd never thought of it as a training technique, but I know that with my first GSD we spent a lot of time doing just what you've described. She was my primary companion; she went with me everywhere; she sat with me when I was sitting and walked when I was walking. We knew each other so well--I could tell her what I wanted and she would understand.

I've been thinking about that with my current GSD pup, how I need to spend more time just hanging out with him and bringing him along with me. Cool to think of it as a "legit" Thing You Do With Your Dog.
 

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.Over time, he settles down. Generally, after 10-15 minutes he just sits down and looks around. If we are somewhen that he feels particularly comfortable, he might even lie down.
Pretty cool Dave... Ive found the same... They sense your energy... in a sense (no pun intended)

Whenever I'm home my dogs are with me..... from room to room, outside, backyard, in the garage etc.

So when I'm on the back patio on the recliner chillin, They are doing the same.... funny our new pup picked up the Modus Operandi pretty quickly off the other dogs. :cool:
 

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I did tons of this with Shadow. She was a fearful pup so would freeze, drool, moan and shake if things got to overwhelming.
I would take her to places she could keep her distance and just sit.
It not only taught her to calm herself, it gave her the opportunity to study her world without any pressure to interact. Over time we learned that life was not so scary so she didn't need to be panicked all the time.
It's a tool I still use.
 

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I've never understood it being referred to as "sit on the dog". That doesn't make sense to me - you're not sitting ON the dog, you're sitting WITH the dog! I just think of it as learning to relax and chill. Whether it's in the house, outside in the yard, or someplace else where you and your dog can hang out and simply watch the world go by, I think it's definitely beneficial to work on. Think of "calm" as simply behavior, to be trained and reinforced just like any other behavior.
It started off as Sit On The Dog (leash). I think they called it that to get attention. Why would anyone want to find out more about a technique called Just Watching or Chilling Out or something that makes sense. Maybe something like Press Pause would make sense, too.

Anyhow, it is pretty intuitive to just stay back and watch something novel. Surprised more people just don't do this naturally. They would want to do it for themselves when they see something they don't understand.
 

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I do this with my reactive hound quite a bit, and my puppy. We sit on the porch and watch people walk by and garden. Sometimes we hang out in pet stores and outside coffee shops. This was very helpful for my reactive hound. We would go into a down stay in the middle of all the dogs of our obedience class or at the edge, and he would learn to calm himself. I tried doing this outside dog parks with him (at a safe distance), but he just went into meltdown and we haven't been back.
 

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I do this with my reactive hound quite a bit, and my puppy. We sit on the porch and watch people walk by and garden. Sometimes we hang out in pet stores and outside coffee shops. This was very helpful for my reactive hound. We would go into a down stay in the middle of all the dogs of our obedience class or at the edge, and he would learn to calm himself. I tried doing this outside dog parks with him (at a safe distance), but he just went into meltdown and we haven't been back.
You need to keep him at a distance that he is still responding to start. Shadow and I moved closer by inches, literally. If he is flipping out you are over his threshold and his brain is not capable of learning.
Laying him in the middle of a bunch of dogs is not teaching him to calm himself, he just eventually gets so overwhelmed that he shuts down. Never ask a dog for a down when it's afraid, it puts them in a vulnerable position and errodes trust as a result.
 

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I agree. Pup and I spent weeks walking around outside the dog park before we went in. My goal was so that he could stand calmly by my side at the entry to the park. Whenever a dog enters the park, most of the dogs go nuts. I figured that he could handle that, he could handle anything.

I have seen a lot of people try to make their dog lay down in order to control them. I try not to do that because Ole gets stressed out if forced to lay down where he does not feel safe. Very briefly, we might do an 'emergency down' if we approach small children and they or their parents look scared. That earns him a jackpot of high-value treats. Ole does better either standing by my side or sitting next to me in a situation that approaches his threshold. Even better is to provide him something active to take his mind off the other dog.

Whenever I have crossed his threshold and he stops listening, I squeeze his squeaky toy and take off running. After months of conditioning, this gets his attention every time. If pup is chasing after me he doesn't have time to go into a full meltdown!
 

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the few times I did make my dog lay down I also sat down with my dog. Sometimes that work, sometimes it didn't. It is important to learn how to read the dog. Either way the calmer I am the better.
 
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