Are you interested in training your Cavoodle but unable to go to an obedience class? No problem! A number of basic commands are easy to teach with a little bit of patience and proper technique. The first and simplest command for a dog to learn is how to sit. This trick is an important stepping stone for learning other commands such as “lie down” and “stay.” Knowing how to sit will come in handy while at the vet, at grooming appointments, and when strangers approach who want to pet your dog.
To begin, move your dog to a quiet area free of distractions, such as a spare bedroom. Do not try and teach your dog any new command in a busy area or one that may be difficult to hold his attention, such as in the yard or kitchen. Also have a lot of high-value treats handy, ones that your dog will work vigilantly to receive. If the treats are large, be sure to break them into tiny bits, or use individual pieces of dry kibble.
The first step is to get your dog used to performing the action, without any command given. While holding a treat, place your hand approximately six inches above your dog’s head and move your hand straight out, away from your body, towards your dog’s tail. His eyes should follow your hand, which will naturally cause him to sit. The moment your dog’s butt hits the ground, immediately give an enthusiastic “Yes!” and give him the treat. You may have to tweak exactly what you do with your hand for each individual dog, but keep in mind that as a dog’s gaze moves backwards, he will inherently be forced to sit down. If your dog walks backwards instead, try holding your hand higher above his head, and move the treat up in the air while also moving it back towards his tail. Repeat this process until your dog reliably sits in response to this treat stimulus.
When your dog is ready, you can add in the verbal command “sit.” Before gesturing for the action, say “sit” and then immediately lure him into a sitting position with a treat. Over time, your dog will learn that you saying “sit” will lead to the lure, which will lead to him being given a treat.
When teaching your dog to sit, there are a few actions not to do. Never force your dog’s rear end to the ground, as this does not teach him the proper action, and can even lead to him expecting to only sit when forced. Also avoid continuing to repeat “sit” if he is not performing the proper action. Continually saying the command with no response can desensitize your dog and essentially makes the word “white noise.” Instead, take a step back from the situation and evaluate what you can do differently to engage him to the proper behavior.
As with all forms of dog training, timing is important. Never give the treat too early, or too late. Try to ensure you are always rewarding the instant your dog’s rear end hits the ground. Keep in mind that your dog’s attention span is short, so to avoid frustration for both you and your dog, always keep training sessions short and positive. The first time your dog gets a command right, give a lot of praise and extra treats. This reaction will keep him engaged, and will also teach him that when he listens to you, he will be rewarded.