On to the fun stuff! This week we will be learning how to teach your dachshund to sit. While many of your dachshunds make already know this command, I am hoping you will still read this article as there might be some tips and tricks you can learn to help you teach them how to sit on the first command, every time. That is the goal we are aiming for and it is not as difficult as it may sound even with your dachshund’s “selective listening”.
You want to start out with your dachshund in heel position (read more about this here). That is, beside your left ankle. Having your dachshund in this position will provide for easier correction than standing in front of your dachshund. It will also help you when you are walking and want your dachshund to sit beside you (before crossing the street, when meeting new people etc). Remember, when teaching stationary commands you are NOT going to use your dog’s name. You can see last week’s blog for the reasoning behind this, but rest assured there is a very important reason for this!
You will want to practice this command on a leash at first so that you can properly correct your dachshund if they do not sit when you tell them to. You want to hold the leash in your right hand and have your dachshund on your left so your leash should be draping across you. Once you have that all figured out tell your dachshund “sit” in a firm but happy tone. As soon as their bum touches the ground give them praise and a treat. Remember, you have 1.5 seconds to reinforce good behaviour so make sure you have your treat ready before you tell your dachshund to sit. If you wait too long your dachshund might not associate the treat with the action they performed.
If your dachshund does not sit on their own within 3 seconds you will need to make them sit. If you remember from the very first week, the reason we do not keep saying “sit, sit, sit” is because this actually conditions your dachshund to not listen on the first command. If you do not follow through they just think “well sit doesn’t really mean I HAVE to sit, mom will say it again. I’ll sit when I feel like having a treat.” This is not what you want your dachshund to learn. You want them to know that when you say “sit” you mean it and it is better for them to do it on their own and be rewarded for it than to have you make them do it and not be rewarded. Even if you have been saying “sit, sit, sit” to your dachshund if you consistently begin to make them obey on the first command they will begin to do it on their own. Think of it as fine tuning their obedience.
So, if your dachshund does not sit on their own within 3 seconds, you are going to re-grab the leash by the clasp with your right hand and gently pull up while using your left hand to gently push down on their bum. It is important to do both of these and not just one because you are isolating both the front and rear parts of your dachshund when you do this. This is especially important for spinal safety. If you just push on the bum and your dachshund is squirming around they are more likely to injure their spine. When you have control of both their head and their bum there is not too much squirming they can do.
Again, even if you are making them do it, once their bum hits the ground immediately reward them with praise. If you make them do it they do not get a food reward! This is important! Food rewards are for luring and for when your dachshund performs a command by themselves. This is the incentive for your dachshund to perform the command on their own. If you reward them with food when you make them do something then the prize is the same for them regardless of if they listen or not. Vocal praise is always very important though to mark the action so whether they sit by themselves or you make them sit always reward them with vocal praise.
You want your dachshund to sit in heel position. If you have been practicing in front of your dachshund their tendency will probably be to swing their bum out. If this happens you can practice along a wall so that your dachshund cannot do this. It is up to you, but if you train them it is okay to sit crooked to you that is what they will probably do until you teach them otherwise. Some people are okay with this and just want their dachshund to sit, but others like myself do find it easier to have them sit parallel beside my left ankle. I find it is easier to give corrections and encourages a more in sync walking experience with my dog, but that is just my personal preference!
So there you have it! My challenge would be to practice this command at every opportunity. It is a fairly quick and simple command. You can pair it with your food refusal/wait from week one every time you feed your dachshund. You can begin practicing off leash once you are confident that your dog will not run off and will usually sit on the first command. If you find they are taking off or not listening, do not get down on yourself, just put the leash back on for a few more days. Remember, if you cannot follow through, you are best to not even tell your dachshund to sit so that they do not learn that listening is optional.
Remember if you have any questions or comments you are more than welcome to send them to firstname.lastname@example.org. Do not forget to tag your pictures with #DUTrainingChallenge so we can see your progress and you can be entered to win some great prizes at the end of the challenge. Happy training!