The Proof is in the…Proofing?

Yesterday I asked Ranger to Sit.

Lots of people think their dog knows how to Sit. You get this conversation a lot in obedience classes for older dogs.

“Does he already know any behaviors?”

“Sure, uh, he knows Sit.”

“Ok, ask him to Sit.”


:dog stares up blankly, wags his tail a little, and licks his lips:

“Well, he’s just being stubborn. He KNOWS this.”

It’s always easier to blame the dog.

The real problem is that the dog really learned that “Sit” means “Put my rump on that one spot of carpet next to the easy chair if my owner is holding a treat and watching Baywatch reruns.”

I exaggerate… a little. But the point is, you have to teach your dog that the same word or hand signal means that he should go into a very specific position very quickly in a very UN-specific set of circumstances – no matter where you are, what position you are in, or what is going on outside around you.

Here’s some more information on proofing if you’d like to dig a little deeper.

So, as I was saying.

Yesterday I asked Ranger to Sit.

While I was babywearing.

With just the word. With just the hand signal.

While standing on a chair. While sitting in a chair.

While right in front of him. While at a 90 degree angle from him. While he was next to me. While he was behind me.

While holding a treat bag. While not holding a treat bag. While holding a clicker. While not holding a clicker.

While I was jumping off the fireplace hearth.

Yesterday I asked Ranger to Sit.

That’s all we did, but it was just a start. Now go proof away, my friends, and let’s lose the myth of “but he KNOWS this!”


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