Fearful Dog

black and white dalmatian looking scared and fearful hiding behind a blue couch

Sit, Hand Signal

We are going to begin working on a sit. Since most dogs will default to a sit on a mat at this stage in training we are going to need to practice on a rug or carpeted area instead. It’s important to use a soft surface on which the dog will be able to comfortably offer and hold a sit. Avoid tile, linoleum or hardwood floors which doesn’t allow for sufficient traction. With leash in hand you are going to walk them over to the carpeted area and when your dog turns to look at you – issue a sit hand signal (open hand, palm up, with upward movement). Note: Most dogs respond to the sit hand signal without needing a prompt because it so closely resembles the movement you make with the lure, if you do need to prompt, you are going to close your hand as though you are holding an imaginary bit of food. The moment that your dog’s butt touches the ground you are going to mark “good” take a piece of food from your left hand and reinforce with your right hand. Reinforce for the duration of the sit, at an interval of 2-3 seconds. Once you have decided to deliver the final reward you are going to issue a release cue, and lead your dog out of position. Give your dog a single reward once he pops out of position. You are going to practice this 3 or 4 times, with 30-60 second breaks in between each repetition. Remember to withhold food, eye contact and petting for these short breaks so that your dog doesn’t think he’s meant to offer any behaviors in that time. It’s extremely important that you, as your dog’s trainer, remember to be consistent about using a release cue ANY TIME you prompt your dog to offer a behavior. Clear, consistent expectations will help to maintain strong communication between you and your dog.

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