“It’s Putting Your Butt on the Ground, Den. It’s Not That Hard.”

Guys!  Denim can sit now!  Of course, she finally figured it out on the day after I had given up, remarking to Grant, “Maybe we’ll just go straight to a ‘down.’ Maybe she’s just one of those dogs for whom sitting is really uncomfortable and she doesn’t want to do it.”

Grant agreed, but did not hesitate to point out that she was just fine sitting when she wanted.  I ignored him.  Denim is not the smartest dog, we don’t need to dwell on it, GRANT.

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“I have what you call “emotional intelligences.”  No, you just like to snuggle.  “Yes, I do.”

I tried everything.  I tried luring her.  I tried luring her while kneeling and hunching over.  I tried rewarding her for every motion that got her closer to a sit.  I tried capturing a sit with a clicker, but was never ready.  I tried just rewarding her whenever she was sitting.  I tried pushing her butt down and hoping she would get the message, but mostly she just looked betrayed when I did that.

It all yielded sitting one time and then her being like, “Yeah, I’m not doing this anymore. Let’s nap.”

And then it happened.  It happened.  I had a pocket full of treats and she was trying to eat my pocket to get to them.  (She’s not smart, okay.  She’s just not.)  I ignored her, because having given up on “sit,” I was trying to teach her to drop things.  Instead, she sat.

I took a step backward, and she took a step with me and sat again.  I praised her and gave her a treat.  I took two steps back, she did it again.  The next time, I held my hand in the lure position right over her nose and she did it again.  More treats, fantastic puppy party.

Then we sat all over the house.  We sat for food, we sat at the door, we sat for fetch, we sat for no reason at all.

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“What?  Like it’s hard?”

I was thrilled.  This moment is why I love training with dogs.  Because suddenly, you’re not just amiable roommates living in comfortable symbiosis.  You’re partners.  You’ve found out that you can, in fact, speak the same language.  The barrier is over.  You can communicate.

Now the world is open.  Down, Leave it, Wait, Stay, Go, Come—I hardly know where to start.  But I know Denim can sit when she’s told, so now it’s all choices instead of frustration.

 

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