Training Is Simple, But It’s Not Easy

Gigi is only about 5 months old, and she's learning how to sit on cue, but it's not easy for Gigi! Gigi knows how to jump far better than she knows how to sit.

"Ask her to sit", I tell Gigi's person, "But only say 'sit' one time, and then just wait. You have to give Gigi a chance to think about it and remember what she is supposed to do."

Gigi's person calls her over and says, "Sit...sit, Gigi, sit."

"How many times did you say 'sit'?" I ask her. She looks at me and her eyes go wide. "Oh my gosh! I said it more than once, didn't I?! It seems so obvious - say it only once, but it's really hard!" We both laugh and she tries again.

Next I notice that every time she asks Gigi to sit, Gigi's person is leaning over her. "Ok", I say, "Lets try it again, but this time I want you to stand up straight and then ask her to sit". She does this, but Gigi doesn't sit. I watch her struggle to not repeat the cue, and then ask her if she knows why Gigi didn't sit. She has no idea.

"Gigi didn't sit because every time you've asked her to sit so far, you've said 'sit' as you were leaning over her. Gigi now thinks that's part of the cue". She looks at me incredulously. "Are you serious? She didn't sit because I was leaning over?"

I explain to her how important body language is to a dog, and how we have to teach Gigi to sit not only in all different locations, but also from all different positions. Standing, sitting, even lying down. Dogs don't generalize things the way we do, so if you teach them to sit only in one location, or only from one position, they won't know to sit anywhere else.

These are the small details that make hiring a knowledgeable trainer so important! As the famous trainer, Bob Bailey says, "Training is simple, but not easy".


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