Sit to Say Please
Sit to Say Please is a life skill for your dog. A dog who learns that she can make good things happen by sitting is easier to live with than dog that thinks it can get what it wants by jumping, or barking. A dog that learns impulse control around his food bowl as a start can also handle more challenging distractions.
It’s a good habit to ask your dog to sit before it gets anything that it wants. This also allows you to use real life rewards and not just food rewards in training. Once you have practiced lots of sits in various locations with some distractions you are ready to implement Sit to Say Please. Your dog needs to be excited about his food to make this drill effective, so if you free feed your dog or if you if your dog doesn’t like his food this drill will not work.
“Sit to Say Please” teaches the dog to stop getting up from a sit. The way it works is you slowly lower the food bowl to the ground and then immediately take it back up if the dog lifts his tush up out of the sit. The dog learns that when he remains sitting the food bowl comes down and he is released to get it.
Here is an 11 year old newly adopted dog learning some impulse control. Her mother really wanted her to learn sit as she was quite a jumper and dancer. This is her first session.
Over time you can build up duration for the sit, so the dog stays in the seated position longer. You can also add eye contact to your criteria for lowering the bowl, and and put it down when your dog is seated AND looking at you. It is helpful if you have already taught your dog to offer eye contact.
Sit to Say Please uses a kind and effective correction for unwanted behavior by employing “negative punishment,” which is kind of the opposite of “positive reinforcement.” Negative means we are taking something away (the food bowl). Punishment means we are decreasing a behavior (getting up from sit without being released).
Use a Release
Did you notice that the owner releases the dog to take the bowl when she remains seated and the bowl is on the floor? The release is a key part of the exercise.
Don’t worry if the first few times you try this it takes a while. It will get easier. It may help to have your dog on a leash held by someone else if you have trouble keeping the dog far enough away for you to set down the bowl.