Sit for Your Supper

By Linda McVay, CCS CDW

Did someone say supper?
After a long day at work you go to place your dog's work to eat puzzle (WTE) or food bowl on the floor and as you lean over… crack, you're met by a jumping, head bumping puppy or worse yet, a bowl dumping dog.

How do teach your dog to keep his backside on the floor until you say it's okay to move? The answer is by not saying a word.

Ready your dog's dinner, call him over and wait for him to offer a sit. Be patient. If your dog is hesitant, square your body up to him. This is the default visual cue that most of us have inadvertently taught our pups . After your dog sits, begin to lower the WTE puzzle toward the floor. If your dog breaks the sit, the WTE puzzle goes back up. Backside down, WTE puzzle down. Backside up, WTE puzzle up. A-ha, a sit! Your dog has controlled his own impulse to “pop” up. This is exactly what you are teaching your dog. I could easily ask my dog for a sit but in the end I would always be asking. Instead, I want my dog to offer the behavior.

This is a new behavior for your dog so as soon as soon as the WTE puzzle and the backside of your dog are on the floor at the same time mark the behavior with a verbal cue of some type. “Chow Time” or “Get it” or in my house a double hand clap and a pointed finger. Praise your dog as she moves towards her dinner.

When your dog has learned this new game you can start to make it a little harder by waiting a second or two before offering the release cue. Once your dog is at ten seconds you can add a little more distance, but be sure to lower your time criterion. It's tough, but you must remember that you can only change one aspect of the behavior at a time. So duration, distance, and distraction are taught separately.