My dog is jumping instead of sitting
If you are following the app's steps and your dog is jumping rather than sitting down, look at your hand. Probably you are holding it too high. Kneel in front of your dog and have the hand a few inches away from the nose and lift it towards the forehead of your dog. The hand should not be higher than a few cm away from the dog's head. When you move the hand, do it in slow-motion, and the hand should be almost glued to the dog’s nose. Make sure you are holding the treat firm so your dog doesn't steal it. Give the treat only when the dog sits.
My dog is walking back and away from me
Train near a wall or sofa, so your dog is in between you and the wall. This way your dog will not have space to walk backward. If your dog is anxious and might feel uncomfortable, alternatively, train your dog on a sofa or an armchair, so your dog is limited by space.
Most common mistakes
Naming the cue too soon
Add a name to the cue only when you would bet money that your dog will perform the exercise immediately. Dogs do not understand English, and for them, it is just distracting noise. If you keep repeating the verbal cue “sit” before your dog knows how to do it, the noise will only distract them from focusing on you. Your dog will also learn to associate the word with a half-finished version of the behavior, e.g., your dog will think that "Sit" means sit halfway without putting the rear on the ground or jump up for a treat.
Pushing your dog’s rear to help them
Although it is an “effective” and fast way to make your dog sit, it doesn't really teach them the meaning of the cue. Your dog will start relying on your touch to know what they have to do. Besides, some dogs might get defensive or fearful if a stranger tries to put them into the position. Take the time, be patient, and your dog will get there.
Repeating the cue
Repeating a verbal cue like "sit, sit, SIT" will decrease the dog's reliability by up to 25%. Avoid repeating verbal cues. Give a cue, and if the dog does not perform after hearing it, wait, or lure with a treat to the position. By repeating the cue, the dog learns they don't have to listen to the first cue, only when your voice gets slightly louder and tenser by the third time.
If you followed the instructions in the app and they didn’t work, try this:
Capture the behavior
Dogs sit down many times throughout the day without being asked. One way is to hang around the house with a bag of treats. When you see your dog sits down, give a verbal marker, e.g., “yes,” or press the clicker and give a treat.
If you don’t want to spend all day following the dog around, try this:
- Take a bowl full of food or a big piece of super tasty food, or your dog’s favorite toy.
- Get your dog’s attention, stand straight, holding the desired object high, so your dog cannot reach it.
- If your dog is jumping for it, don’t allow them to take it. Wait patiently, without saying anything.
- Most probably, your dog will sit down and wait.
- Immediately after your dog sits down, give a verbal marker “yes” or press the clicker, and give the dog the desired object.
- Practice the exercise until your dog develops a natural reflex; they sit down once they see the desired object. You are ready to add a verbal cue “sit.”