Basic obedience positions, consisting of sit, down, and stand, provide a foundation for much of the movement your Service Dog does throughout the day. Public access uses long downs, mobility work relies on rock solid stands, and sit is the most commonly cued position for most dogs. Lots of puppies learn sit first. Next, they master down and down stays. Some go on to learn stands, but many don't. By improving your basic obedience positions, you can improve your communication with your Service Dog while also improving task work, public access, and functionality. You can also use basic obedience positions to build your dog's strength, mobility, and flexibility. In addition, improving sits, downs, and stands offers a great chance to work on your dog training skills, including timing, reward placement, and reinforcement schedules. These skills also serve as a base for more advanced obedience and positioning skills, like pivots, emergency downs, and stays out of motion. Basic Obedience Positions and Cue Differentiation Does your dog know sit? Many people believe their dog does but then discover their dog relies on a mixture of physical, environmental, contextual, and verbal cues and not on the cue "sit" itself! The same goes for downs and stands -- does your dog still respond to the cue if you're standing straight up and you don't use your hands? What if your back is turned? Many dogs, including highly trained ones, only know what their handler wants if the cue is delivered with precisely the correct elements. Work on improving your dog's response to verbal cues. Strive to reduce or remove physical elements from your cues. Change the way you deliver cues -- sit down, stand up, lay on the ground, try it from an elevated position, etc. Work until your dog performs reliably off a single verbal cue regardless of the environmental set up or the position you yourself are in. Expanding your dog's generalization of a cue might come in handy during emergencies or in situations your dog can't readily see you. Basic Obedience Position Transitions Playing position transition games is a great way to improve basic obedience positions. Most dogs can go into a down from a sit, but does your dog pop into a sit from a down on cue? Do they stand on cue while sitting or in a down? How many times can they transition cleanly? These games are great opportunities to work on cue differentiation
At first glance, "sit" seems like a pretty easy position to teach a dog. In fact, sit is often the very first thing puppies learn. Did you know, though, that there are several different kinds of sit positions? The type that's commonly taught, the rock back sit, isn't always the most efficient or best version for working dogs. Learn how to teach a "tuck sit" by following a few simple steps! Dogs sit via one of two basic ways -- by shifting backward on their haunches with or without moving their front feet towards their rear or by scooting their rear end up towards their shoulders. The first way, called a "rock back" sit, uses gravity to sink the dog's rump to the ground. The second, called a "tuck sit," requires enough shoulder strength and stability to support the dog's body weight as they transition into the sit. For most dogs, the basic rock back sit is just fine -- they just need to be able to put their rear on the ground when asked. For working dogs or performance dogs, especially those competing in obedience trials, the tuck sit reigns supreme. It allows the dog to remain properly aligned without moving away from their handler. If you put the dog's front feet on a line and ask for a tuck sit, the feet stay in a place. In contrast, a dog using a rock back sit might end up feet away from the place they started! For Service Dog trainers and handlers, tuck sits prove invaluable because they ensure the handler can easily reach the dog or anything the dog is carrying in their mouth or in a pack. Furthermore, the tuck sit also prevents the Service Dog from occupying more space than necessary while working in public. There are many ways to teach a tuck sit Multiple methods exist for teaching tuck sits. Depending on how your dog learns, one way may work better for you guys than another. Below, you'll find a step-by-step guide to teaching a tuck sit that relies on simple foundation skills. The method outlined tends to work for a wide variety of dogs, including puppies. Before beginning tuck sit training Ideally, before beginning to teach the tuck sit, your dog will already have some paw targeting and nose targeting skills. The targeting isn't completely required but it will shortcut the process. You'll need high value treats, some kind of
We all think our Service Dogs know basic commands inside and out, but do they really? This week's Service Dog Challenge will shake up your behavior proofing knowledge, polish your Service Dog's performance and solidify your partner's comprehension of cues. Get ready to have some fun perfecting your canine partner's positional knowledge and learning how to test understanding!
For young Service Dogs in Training and other working dogs with public access, "place" training is an invaluable tool that teaches rock-solid impulse and self-control, along with laying the foundation for "stays." Learn how one trainer utilized "place" training for a puppy's first flight.