Thursday, June 30, 2011

An Easy Way to Teach "Sit" as a Desired Response to People Approaching

During lunch break today, a 30-year veteran and guide dog training professional here at The Seeing Eye gave Vinson and I some quick work on sitting when people approach; and it was way easier than you might think.

Obviously, many people will approach you when you're walking with a puppy. If the puppy gets excited (which is almost inevitable at first) and inches his way out of the sit, it makes no difference if he/she then sits when he reaches the person; he's already received the reward of contact with the person on his own terms.

Instead, my coworker approached us from about 15 feet away while Vinson was sitting. If the pup inched forward or moved out of the sitting position in any way before the person reached him, my coworker immediately backed up and increased the gap between himself and the puppy. We repeated this a few times in just a minute or so, and Vinson got it; the desired response was for him to sit and let the person approach him.

The proof that this worked? We went out to "park" after the session. When we re-entered the building, we saw the staff member again and Vinson immediately went into a sit without any command or resistance!

If you have strangers or people that aren't dog-educated approaching you and your puppy, you can ask them to stop, or you can physically increase the gap by backing up with your puppy while you explain to the person what you're trying to accomplish.

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