Oh my gosh, for those of you that have 2 legged children, how do you feel when your child starts saying mom, mom,mom, mom ,mom, mooooom, moooom…… I do not have human kids but I can tell you when I hear children doing that in a store or restaurant, in my head I am screaming, I heard you the first time. S.T.O.P.
I feel the same way when I hear someone telling their dog, sit, sit, sit!, SIT. And then, the worse thing imaginable to me, they PUSH on their dogs back or bottom to MAKE them sit.
When I encounter folks like this, my first thought is, “Why are you not asking your dog instead of demanding?” “Does your dog even understand what the word means yet? The second thought is, “Oh my gosh, they are going to hurt their dog.”
I wonder what that human would do if I walked up to them and said “canella”and then pushed them down by their shoulders. First, they would have no idea what I was saying to them because they do not know what I mean by “canella“. Secondly, they would probably lock their knees and get very angry at me because I was pushing on them and potentially hurting them.
It’s hard to remember that dogs are not born knowing the word sit nor what it means. We must teach them what we are looking for in their behavior when we say that word. Plus, I always pair a hand signal with a word so even if a dog does not understand what I or someone else says, they will probably understand the body movements of a hand signal if they have been taught one.
I remember a situation very distinctly with my therapy dog Zoe. She had terrible hip dysplasia and it would take her a few seconds to put her bottom on the ground if I asked her to sit. One evening, we were working a function with special needs kids. One of the fathers of a boy came up to us and yelled at Zoe to sit and then tried to push her bottom to the ground. In my mind I came unglued. “DO NOT PUSH ON MY DOG” was what my brain was screaming. Out loud I asked him very simply to not push on my dog but to ask her politely. And my next thought was, “Is this how you ask your special needs son to do something?”
I found a great article the “Sit.Sit!”SIT” Syndrome that explains exactly what I am talking about here and why it is imperative that we do not physically push our dogs or anyone else’s dogs into a sit.
If you encounter someone with a dog that you would like to say hello to, ask the owner, or ask the question to the dog– “Do you know how to sit?” You may be very surprised at the beautiful behavior that dog gives you. If it is your dog that you want to sit, teach them the cue first. Reward well when they give you the proper behavior. Once your dog has learned the cue, ask once. Wait a few seconds for the dog to translate what you said into an action. Sit complete. REWARD!!