Monday, January 04, 2010

Sit on the Dog pictorial

I'm starting this pictorial out with toy breeds. The first thing to notice is that their size and special needs are being seen to, which makes this exercise both easy and reasonable.

The toy breed dog really should never be required to do any sort of a down in a location that has the potential of putting them in physical danger. Doing a 'sit on the dog' strictly by the book will do just that and serve to damage the trust relationship between dog and owner. So two changes are made. The first one is to supply a small bed with sides and the second is to place the bed UNDER the chair rather than on the left side.

Notice the position of the collar and the leash. There is just enough slack allowed in the leash to maintain the slight upward pull on the collar. Since the dog is actually under the chair the leash angle is toward the owner's left side.

Pay attention to the location of the leash. Even though the dog is ultimately going to be under the chair there is still the need to adhere to the left side rule at this time.

Generally when you see a dog doing what this Lab is doing the digging is accompanied by verbalization. The noise may be anything from an annoying whine to a loud bay and frequently settles in to steady cadence style barking if not stopped.

Temporarily resigned to his fate our Lab is now quiet, in a comfortable position and able to take in his surroundings.

Babied and catered to this Portuguese Water Dog wants no part of the floor and tries for a lap.

When that fails, she sits hunched up and brooding. But not for long...

Surely the lap is not to be denied a second/third/tenth time and so she tries again and again. Each time she is simply pushed off and away and, if necessary, the leash is readjusted to allow less slack.

Finally getting the message, but only in part, Portuguese Water Dog grudgingly does a down. Notice she is still not willing to pay attention to what is going on around her. Because her curled up in a ball position is yelling, "I'm not here and I'm most certainly not going to play with you" we know there is still much work to do on this one exercise alone

And now we come to the large dog. Since this is what I call a 'naked' dog, i.e. one with short, tight coat and very little body fat, like the toy breed it makes good sense to supply a mat or bed for them to use during this exercise. No, it most definitely isn't spoiling or pampering. It's just good animal husbandry practice. Dogs with little coat/body fat protection are very prone to pressure sores on hocks and elbows. Besides which, this exercise is supposed to be teaching calmness, a willingness to follow and patience, not how long can you stay in one spot and suffer physical breakdown without complaining.

Meanwhile, our model is saying, "I ain't a gonna do it and you can't make me" Of course, the dog new to this sort of discipline hasn't a clue as to just what "it" might be. Being fair in this case simply means allowing the dog the necessary time to figure it out.

Here our model has resorted to pulling as hard as possible. Since there really isn't enough slack to allow for the necessary traction the pulling is short-lived.

Having figured out the guidelines of this rather strange human behavior, we are now treated to a calm, alert dog who appears to be very much with the program.

Please note that all the dogs used for these pictures are models well accustomed to posing and every single one of them are volunteers. Truth be told, one of them even threw something of a temper tantrum when she thought she might be passed over for the photo shoot.
No humans were injured during this production.


  1. Anonymous4:56 AM

    Very nice pictorial, Margot, i already knew what it was from your manual but nice in pictures

    Jerry Walker

  2. This is really great, Margot! I've recommended it to many new adopters of our German Shepherds, and now having the pictures will make it much easier to explain. Thanks so much for this.

    I love this exercise when I get in a new foster dog that doesn't want to settle -- much to the disgust of my own dogs who choose to lie in that exact spot. Doesn't take long for the new fosters to figure out that there's lots of relaxed quiet time around here.

  3. I LOVED this blog post Margot! I've told my clients of small dogs to use the mat/bed and also allowed the 'under the chair' position. Seeing it here affirms I wasn't 'cheating', and that I was doing the right thing for the dog and hence, the relationship is a great feeling. Thanks for posting this!

  4. Margot,great blog as usual,and the pictures are helpful to anyone new to the exercise. elice

  5. I was referred to this post from Steve Kuhn who I just started working with. My pit mix is just starting out with this exercise and we will be practicing it a lot in the upcoming weeks. Nice to see the photos and glad to be following your blog!

  6. Jan Harkner-Abbs2:44 PM

    This is a technique I've used for years and years on my working dog pups to keep them from racing around my house. It has worked very well in raising high energy dogs in the the house.

  7. CARLOS12:13 PM

    Amazing article simply amazing :) Thank you