Having trouble getting your new puppy to sit? What's the best way to teach it?
Q: I cannot get my cocker spaniel puppy to sit properly to the “sit” command; she just keeps wagging her tail and lifting up her bottom.
She is four months old now and this issue is preventing me from moving on with her training. She will not stay either when I walk away. Should I tether her or is there a better way?
A: The days of forcing dogs to stay by tethering passed many decades ago. She sounds as if she is one happy little puppy that really wants to please, and you need to find a way of using that enthusiasm to your advantage. I had similar issues with my first sucessful cocker spaniel, a tiny black bitch whom I bred – in fact, I never did achieve a first sit and stay with her. In later life her steadiness deteriorated and I often wonder if I had taught her to sit still as a puppy whether she would have remained steady for life.
The secret of teaching your puppy to sit
- The youngster needs to learn that the only way to earn a treat is by being motionless.
- Do not reward or react to any other type of behaviours during these lessons.
- You need to wait patiently until she stands or sits completely still and instantly reward her.
- If she tries to move to take the treat, take it away and ignore her until she is still again.
- Timing is crucial, but she will soon learn that being still earns reward and moving about does not.
- By lifting the treat up and backwards you should be able to lure her into a sitting position before giving her the reward.
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Can I leave a puppy alone?
Think very carefully about this because taking a puppy from its mother, brothers and sisters is going to be a stressful enough time in its life.
To then leave it for long periods without company isn’t going to help matters – it is bound to get dreadfully bored and this will almost certainly affect its psychological development.
On a more practical note you should also remember that a puppy will need feeding about 3-4 times a day so leaving it any longer than, say, four hours is not a good idea.