My friend, Donna, has a dog that sits (or lies) down in the middle of her walks. Her dog, Jessie, usually won’t budge and she has to literally pick him up and move him out of the way (especially if he is in the street)! I wondered if this was typical behavior in dogs, so I did some research to see what I can find out to help her and other dog owners combat the ‘sit down’.
As it turns out, if your dog sits or lies down regularly during walks, this is a behavioral pattern that can be difficult to break, depending upon the dog's age and personality. An important part of the solution involves figuring out why your dog is doing it. While it could just be a psychological power struggle, sometimes this behavior is a sign of an underlying medical problem.
OBSERVE YOUR DOG
Watch your dog while he walks. Does he favor a particular leg? Is he keeping his legs rigid during walks? Does he appear to get tired quickly?
YOU’RE THE BOSS
Remember that you are the one who is in charge. Dogs are very adept at reading human body language. If you carry yourself in a weak or submissive way, your dog will pick up on that and get the idea that he is in charge. When he sits down, do not yell angrily, as this is also a sign of weakness. Instead use a confident, commanding voice as though you were ordering a soldier. There should be no question in your mind about whether he or she will get up. You know he will, because you told him to. This is a hard skill to perfect, but it can be done.
Do I have to get up?
BRING TREATS ALONG
Take some treats along with you when walk your dog. Use them as rewards, but be careful to only use them sparingly. Dogs are smart and they will quickly learn to manipulate you if you give them the chance. Do not offer the dog treats in order to encourage them to get up when they are sitting. If you do, you will find that your dog will never get up unless you give him a treat.
Instead, reward the behavior you want. Only give out treats when your dog is walking the way you want him to. Choose small bite-size treats; otherwise, your dog may sit down to eat the treat.
WALK WITH SOMEONE ELSE
Take an extra person along on your walk. If you usually walk the dog alone, the dog will find it exciting to have an extra person along, and this will encourage him not to be so stubborn.
HIRE A DOG TRAINER
Consider hiring a professional dog trainer. The trainer might be able to show you what you are doing wrong in just a few lessons.
TAKE A VISIT TO THE VETERINARIAN
You might want to visit your veterinarian and report your observations to him or her. Ask your vet to examine the dog's legs and hips. (This is mostly for older dogs). He or she will probably also want to take x-rays. Also ask if the dog is overweight. One reason that some dogs sit down during walks is that they are in pain. Knee problems, obesity, and arthritis can all cause this behavior. If there is a problem, follow your vet's recommendations regarding treatment. If there is not a problem, then you may confidently go forward with training, knowing that you are not hurting your dog.
I hope these tips help. You can break your dog of this pattern with patience and confidence. Good luck!
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