So you think that training dogs is just for people who show their dogs at dog shows? Wrong! Training for the everyday Urban Husky is not only handy, it is essential. Teaching these two commands might just save your sanity as well as your dog’s life.
The life of the Urban Husky is filled with all kinds of man made dangers. In nature dogs never have to worry about getting hit by cars or getting lost. But in the Urban Jungle there are ample dangers, especially for the untrained or out of control dog. Countless family pets are killed every year because they ran out into traffic and were hit by a car. This is a double tragedy because not only does a family suffer the loss of their pet but the driver of the car has to live with the guilt and grief of killing someone’s beloved family pet. This situation is preventable if owners just made the effort to train their dogs to understand and comply to the cues of SIT and WAIT.
The Key To Teaching And Having A Rock Solid Command: Teaching Generalization
A common mistake people make in training their dogs is to train them only to a specific place or a situation. If you work on teaching your dog that they have to sit indoors when you give them a treat but don’t ever work on teaching them to sit outside on the street corner, they come away with the understanding that they ONLY have to sit indoors when you give them a treat. SIT should mean that at anytime, anyplace, under any circumstances. When your dog hears the cue SIT, their fuzzy bums have to be anchored to the ground regardless of the situation. But this understanding won’t happen unless you practice teaching cues all the time, in all kinds of places, and under all kinds of different circumstances. This is called Generalizing and it is the key to teaching a solid bullet proof cue to your dog.
Tips To Help With Teaching Generalization
- Always practice the behaviour in the place or condition that you first trained it and then immediately move to the new location and practice it there. This keeps the behaviour fresh in the dog’s mind and helps to anchor the understanding that the cue applies at all times and in all places.
- Make sure that you are using very High Value Rewards. A High Value Reward refers to a reward that can ONLY be gotten for compliance in training. If a dog can get the reward often or in other ways, the reward loses its value or weighting. Sometimes dog compliance improves just because you choose to use a higher value reward.
- Make the training fun and exciting. Encourage your dog to join in the “fun” by participating in the new behaviour.
- Make sure that you have your dog’s full attention in the new place. Dogs will become easily distracted by new surroundings and its new distractions. Focus your dog’s attention on you first and THEN attempt to work to teach the behaviour.
- Once you have mastered the command in a new location, don’t forget to add Duration and Distance to your training repertoire. Teach your dog to do the skill longer and with you standing farther away.
Everyday Common Situations Where You Can Use SIT and WAIT With Your Dog
Having your dog SIT allows you to be able to:
- Keep your dog still during an exam at the vet, at the groomer, or in any shop.
- Stop to re-tie your shoes during a walk without pulled over by your dog.
- Scoop poop during your walk without being pulled off balance by your dog.
- Walk your dog and still tend to a baby in a stroller.
- Get your dog ready for a walk quicker and easier because you don’t have to try to get a collar and leash on a constantly moving, bouncing dog.
- Be able to meet other dogs and people safely and politely.
- Have a social life that includes your dog. Company will be happy to come over if your dog does not assault them as soon as they walk in the door.
- Lock your front door without being dragged down the steps by your dog.
- Stop at a street corner and not be dragged out into traffic by your dog.
Having your dog WAIT allows you to be able to:
- Keep dogs from charging through an open door.
- Keep dogs from bolting out of the car as soon as you open the crate door or the car door.
- Set down dog dishes without being trampled by hungry stampeding dogs.
- Walk up or down stair cases without being trampled by dogs trying to push past you.
- Keep dogs from pushing, shoving, jumping, scrambling to get where they want to go… without you.
How To Teach The SIT and WAIT Command
Think your dog already knows enough about SIT and WAIT? Think again. The learning should never stop for your dog. Practicing skills should never stop. There is always room for improvement and refinement. Who knows? Knowing and being able to execute these skills reliably may even save your dog’s life one day.
Teaching The SIT Command
The sit command is very easy to teach.
- Hold a treat out an inch or so out in front of your dog’s nose. Guide your dog into a sitting position by slowly moving the treat upwards.
- Wait for your dog to follow the path of the treat with her nose. Once her nose is pointing up in the air, start moving the treat slowly back (toward the direction of her tail) until the treat is up over her head. This causes the dog lean back and as the dog does this, the back haunches start to automatically collapse into a sitting position.
- When the dog’s bum is on the ground immediately mark the behaviour with a verbal YES and reward with a treat.
- Repeat the action and add the word SIT while you are cuing the dog.
- Practice and eventually fade using the lure.
Practice cueing SIT from a few steps away.
Practice cueing SIT from a few feet away.
Practice cueing SIT in many different places and with many new distractions.
Teaching The WAIT Command
In dog training, the WAIT command should be used when a “temporary” STAY is needed. WAIT means the same as “pause”. It is used most commonly in Obedience Trials and as well in Field Obedience Trials but the WAIT command has so many practical applications related to everyday life and living with a dog that it is well worth teaching this command to any dog.
- Begin by placing your leashed dog in a SIT position beside you on your left side.
- Now turn slightly toward your dog and hold up your right hand in front of the dog’s nose, palm facing the dog, fingers pointing upward in a classic STOP gesture. Cue with the word WAIT.
- Now quickly, leading off with your right foot and taking only two steps, and step away from your dog. You lead off with the foot furthest away from the dog so that your forward movement does not cause your dog to move forward with you.
- Wait only two or three seconds and then step back so that your dog is once again located on your left hand side. If your dog did not move from his SIT and WAIT, quickly mark and/or reward the behaviour and then RELEASE the dog by using the release word OKAY.
- If the dog moved from the sit position, return the dog into the SIT and WAIT position and begin the process again.
- Keep doing this until you can capture and reward your dog sitting and waiting for two or three seconds.
- Once your dog has mastered this very short WAIT, you can practice adding both Duration and Distance to the WAIT until you can move several paces away and your dog can stay in the WAIT position for up to one minute. Make sure you remember to release the dog each time you complete the process.
- Once your dog is reliably waiting until you release them, you can begin moving away in a new way. This time you are going to face your dog and keep looking at the dog as you back away from them. Remember that adding this extra movement to the behaviour may temporarily confuse your dog and at first he may start breaking out of the WAIT position. If he does simply return him to the beginning position and start again.
- Again, at first reduce the Duration and the Distance in the WAIT position and then gradually add back the time and the distance.
If your dog breaks out of the WAIT position or begins to creep forward at any point, always return to the dog, place them back into the SIT and WAIT position, and begin the process again.
Always remember to release the dog by cueing with OKAY.
Also remember to practice this exercise in a variety of places with many different distractions but if you are practicing outdoors DO NOT practice with your dog OFF-LEASH unless you are in a fully secured area.
As always we welcome your comments, questions, and stories. Do you have a story about how an obedience skill saved your dog from tragedy? Do you have funny story about trying to teach your dog obedience skills? Please consider sharing your experiences with us for when we share our stories we may help someone who is currently struggling.
Helping all Snow Dogs …. one owner at a time.