"Sit. Sit. SIT. Sit Sit Sit Sit. SIIIIIT!"

Sounds Familiar?

By Sandra Roosna / February 21, 2022

And you're not alone!

Chanting the cue is one of the most common mistakes dog parents make.

If our dog doesn't perform the cue right away, we tend to repeat it. If that doesn't work we raise our voice. We assume that the pup is either stubborn or doesn't hear us (or both)..

Do me a favor and tell me what is 64 x 125, while holding a scalding cup of water in your hand. You only have two seconds to give me an answer and you can't use a calculator.

ā¬†ļø Oftentimes this is the equivalent level of stress our dogs are under if they're meeting a stranger or are thrown into a new environment, but asked to perform a cue that they "should already know".

Here is what is likely going through your dog's head when you ask for a "Sit-Stay" while, let's say, you're about to open the front door after the doorbell rings:

- "I'm confused by this request."

- ""Sit"... "sit"... "sit"... I know that one. Hold on, I *think* I can get this one right."

- "Not now, there's an intruder I need to deal with."

- "What's in it for me?"

- "Be careful!"

- "This is too hard."

- "Omg, WHO'S AT THE DOOR?"

- "You're scaring me."

What you should do when your dog is not responding:

šŸ’œ Give them a few seconds to process the information. They'll likely get it right when you give them time to think about it.

šŸ’œ Go back to basics and practice the behavior in environments where your dog is not distracted and has no issues performing (e.g. the living room). Then, generalize the behavior by practicing it outside the learning environment and gradually adding new distractions. You're likely asking for too much too soon.

šŸ’œ Use higher-value rewards in highly distracting environments. If you're worried about bribing your dog, then consider whether getting a paycheck and an acknowledgment from your boss for a job well done would be bribing in your book.

šŸ’œ Ask your dog for a behavior they normally have no issues performing. In a high-stress environment, executing a movement-based behavior (e.g. hand target) is easier on the nerves.

šŸ’œ Stop what you're doing, take a step back, lower your tone, and smile at your dog. They didn't get it and that is 100% okay. You can pick it up again when you are both less frustrated.