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06 May 2011

Does Your Dog Know What You Want?

This is one of many dog ownership tips I'd like to share with you under the name 'Paws for Thought' written by a friend at work, posted here with her permission. Please note that these posts are written by a dog lover learning more every day and happy to share. They are intended to give you options and ideas to think about. They do not replace the help of a professional (such as a vet, behaviourist, trainer or lawyer). Posts can be shared with others as long as you make sure that any references contained within the post remain with the post and please do not take chunks out of context. Preference is definitely for the whole post to be shared rather than pieces.


Does your dog really know what you want?  Most people think that their dog understands cues/commands such as 'sit' or 'down/drop' but it's really not as simple to teach a dog just what these words mean as you might think. 

Let's take 'sit' as an example.  The dog has to learn that the word sit (or a signal if you choose to use one) means a particular body position.  Not only that, they need to learn that the word means that position regardless of what they are doing, where they are, where you are in relation to them, what you are doing, what else is going on in the environment and so much more.

Are you game to test you and your dog? 

Test it

 If you think your dog knows what sit and down/drop means try these (and feel free to report back on what happens):

1.  Sit on a chair and ask your dog to sit.

2.  Sit on a different chair and ask your dog to down/drop.

3.  Lie on your bed and ask for a sit.

4.  Lie on your bed and ask for a down/drop.

5. Turn your back on the dog and have someone watch it (or check in a mirror) and ask for a sit without looking back at him/her.

6.  Turn your back and ask for a down/drop.

7.  Lie on the floor with your dog standing nearby and ask for a sit.

8.  Now ask for a drop.

Now if you are really game try the following:

9. Ask your dog to sit while you have your arms full of washing or something else and are busy doing a household chore.

10. Ask your dog to down/drop while you are on all four on the floor.

Go on - be truthful - what happened?  Does your dog really understand sit and down?  If not, then a few later Paws for Thought posts should be able to give you some ideas on how to improve your performance - yours and the dogs : )


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