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
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!