One of the first thing people do when they get a new puppy or dog? They teach them to sit. Well… In the case of many rescues, the dog’s training is judged by weather or not they can actually sit.
But why even teach sit. What’s the point? Is there something more important that we should actually be teaching our dogs?
Well, now that you mention it, yes there is! Would you be surprised if I tell you that for the first 6 months that I had Raven, we worked on many things. But I didn’t even teach her to “sit”? I should practice what I preach after all…
But first let’s talk about…
What’s the point of “sit”
OK, so the only real reason for sit is to keep your dog in a stationary position. A stand is too easy for the dog to take a step, and one step leads to two, and if you’re not onto it (which, let’s face it, most of us aren’t) then your dog’s off doing whatever…
But really a sit is as good as a down, really. Both are positions to keep your dog in place. And that’s really all they’re good for. There is no other real reason to ask your dog to sit.
Does it matter if your dog prefers to sit or lie down? Nope. It doesn’t matter. I tend to let my dog choose whatever position they like. The only exception is if we’re prepping for obedience competitions.
So, then what’s more important?
There are SOOOOO many things that are more important! Where do I start? I’ll break it up into a few different areas. Learning to effectively communicate with your dog. (This is super important! If this is where you need help, check out this online class). Building trust, building a bond and building your dog’s confidence!
OK, so what does communication entail? It means that you actually have to learn to read your dog’s body language. It also means that you actually need to put an effort into learning how to get your dog to work with you.
Tough love! Because beating around the bush doesn’t work. I’ve put together the online course “How to Train Your Dog” so you can learn these skills at your pace and all while having fun with your dog!
Right… What about the rest?
Is building trust and a bond really different? They’re the same, and they’re different. Building trust means that you’re not going to do anything that will make your dog feel unsafe. It means that your dog can rely on you to protect them.
But, you can have trust without respect. Building a bond is about both you and your dog respecting each other. It’s about working together and it’s about your dog and you being a team. That means that you need to have effective communication in place.
It takes about 2 to 3 years till your dog seems like they can read your mind. But that kind of closeness only happens when you spend a lot of time together doing stuff. But of course, you also need to have a clear communication system so your dog actually understands you! If you don’t spend any time with your dog you’re not going to have a good relationship. It’s as simple as that.
But what can I teach my dog that’s more important than sit?
There is a ton of stuff, and it’s all about building your dog’s confidence. Most people call it “socialization”. But the problem with the word socialization is, that everyone thinks of puppy playdates. Which is definitely NOT what I’m meaning.
Get your puppy used to walking on different surfaces. Like sand, gravel, dirt, grass, shiny surfaces, slippery floors, basically anything you can think of! But, wait there’s more! Teach your dog to clamber on things, even if they’re a bit wobbly. But don’t be in a hurry, you’re building confidence. You’re building a team!
What else can you do? Anything you can imagine. If you’re looking for ideas, I have an extensive list in this puppy socialisation ideas. It’s in a course (this is also excellent for helping nervous dogs overcome their fears!)