TIP #1: TRAINING HEEL
Why train a heel? Because you want your dog to be by your side and looking at you while you pass by something distracting.
To train it, start with a handful of treats, your clicker or marker word at the ready, and your dog in a sit by your side. Put a treat in front of your dog’s nose, keeping your hand with the treat by your pant seam. Take a step forward and immediately mark (click or yes!) and treat your dog as he joins you by your side. Continue treating at a rate of one treat per second as long as your dog stays by your side.
Once your dog is walking alongside you for 10 yards begin using the Heel cue while you slowly increase the time between treats. For instance, treat every 3 steps instead of every step. Then, treat every 5 steps. And so on. Continue to reward occasionally, and be ready to reward more generously when asking your dog to heel through a particularly interesting environment, like other dogs or crowds.
TIP #2: SIT, SIT, SIT SYNDROME
There is a behavior that the vast majority of humans reliably demonstrate when meeting an unfamiliar dog or puppy: they will tell the dog to “Sit! Sit! SIT!” Even without any evidence whatsoever that the dog understands the word, people will repeat it again and again, and say it louder and more emphatically, seemingly certain that the dog was too distracted or just didn’t hear them. It never seems to cross their minds that the dog doesn’t fully understand what the word means.
We humans EXPECT dogs – strange dogs, baby dogs, ALL dogs – to do this one thing when we say they should. But why? We wouldn’t dream of saying the same thing to a CAT we just met!1 And pushing its butt down when it didn’t sit! We don’t do this to chickens, or goats, or guinea pigs, or parrots.
Think about it: We don’t do this to ANY OTHER ANIMAL! Just dogs are singled out for this expectation – and many, many others. I think most people would immediately understand that they need to manage, train, and condition ANY other species of animal to go along with the things we routinely just expect dogs to do, including cooperate with baths, intimate grooming and touching, riding in cars, getting along with other dogs, and so on.
Anyway, I should also add that I DO often say “Sit!” to dogs I don’t know – but I do it for the same reason that I would say “Hello!” to a strange person: to get information, NOT to “order” him to do something.
I can usually tell from a person’s response to “Hello!” whether we speak the same language (or not), or whether the person is even willing to have any sort of communicative exchange with me. Similarly, I can usually tell from a dog’s response whether he has any interest in “speaking”’ with me, and if so, whether we might have any language in common. A dog who looks like he might know what “Sit!” means and is willing to comply is the equivalent of a person who responds to “Hello!” with “Hi, how are you?” To me, it means that we can start to have a conversation in the same language.
- Whole Dog Journal
Jeff Dentler, CPDT-KA, IAABC-ADT, FFCP, CTDI