Why are we always asking for the sit? It has always seemed like the good “obedient” choice on our part for our dog to provide. I’ve been in that place myself. I wanted my Great Dane to sit patiently. Then I had an epiphany.
Last year we brought our adolescent dane RuhRoh to a group class. Hubby kept asking her to sit. She was being a very good dog, she was calmly greeting people and dogs. She was walking with a loose leash. She was being such a freaking good dog! However she would not sit on cue in that environment.
So why were we upset? Aside from being embarrassed, it was the way WE had been trained, the dog should sit. It is the first behavior we are taught in training school and in training classes. It's time to rethink sit, and here are some of the reasons why as well as how SIT may not be the best option for our dogs.
1. Sit before entering a doorway. Why should our dog have to sit before entering a doorway? In the old days it was thought that if a dog entered first they were trying to be dominant over us. In actuality they are usually just excited about what is on the other side. As an alternative polite behavior a "check in" and pause will help you and your dog be on the same page, is usually faster and adds another step in a relationship built on respect.
Things to think about: Some surfaces may be hot, hard, rocky or in some other way uncomfortable to our dog. Finally, and most important, as a dog ages those sits can become painful and hard on the hips.
"Standing waits" will give you and your dog calm go-to skills that are much more convenient to both you and your dog. To teach this behavior while the dog is standing next to you say their name and reward when they look at you. Practice it a lot, then take it to the doorway, both going out and in. Do this when your hands aren’t full or you aren’t wrangling children, so that they make the connection that waiting calmly is worthwhile. Then add in distractions such as carrying a bag or box, engage a friend to help with greetings on walks. One step at a time.