Sighthounds Don’t Sit


Fact, or Fiction? The Simpsons' greyhound sits

The Simpsons' greyhound sits: Fact, or Fiction?

The main problem we’ve had with dog training is that so much of it starts with “Sit.”

  • Want your dog to learn “stay”? Have them sit. 
  • Want your dog to be calm at the door? “Sit.” 
  • Teaching your dog to pause before crossing the street? “Sit.”
C-Biscuit crashes the Greyhound Meet-up in Central Park. Do you see any sighthounds sitting?

C-Biscuit (top left) crashes the Greyhound Meet-up in Central Park. Do you see any sighthounds sitting?

“Sit” is so easy for most dogs, it was taught on the first day of C-Biscuit’s obedience class. All of the fluffy puppies threw their behinds on the floor (Comfy!) while our sleek whippet stood and looked at us confused. When we enticed her by moving a treat over her head so she had to scrunch down to get it, she just moved away from us – Get that thing out of my face, you crazy people!

Even the very experienced trainer had no luck getting Biski’s athletic bottom onto the hard gymnasium floor. Her diagnosis? “That’s okay. Sighthounds don’t sit.”

Her recommendation was to use “lie down” instead. That makes much more sense for low-fat sighthounds, who do lie down naturally. Of course, they lie down on something padded, not a bare floor. The trainer advised us to bring a towel or mat to class.

Want your sighthound to settle? Better bring padding - even to the top of a mountain. (Shira and C-Biscuit last summer on Giant Ledge.)

Got whippet? Bring padding - even to the top of a mountain. (Shira and C-Biscuit last summer atop Giant Ledge.)

The next week, while all of the other puppies sat eagerly on command, Bob and I rolled out Biski’s giraffe-print dog cushion for her to recline on. This is more like it, Biski thought as she lay down. The other dogs’ owners glanced over at us with disdain, Spoiled yuppy puppy! Hadn’t they heard? Sighthounds don’t sit!

“Lie down” is not nearly as versatile as “sit.” Because of the padding issue, it’ll work on the living room rug, but not next to my desk (wood floor), at the front door (wood floor), in the kitchen (ceramic tiles), on the street (please…), etc.

Mission Not Impossible, Just Unlikely: C-Biscuit (far right) will sit for treats.

Mission Not Impossible, Just Unlikely: C-Biscuit (far right) will sit for treats.

So we use “lie down” when we can, to settle the dogs and teach them patience, for example, but more or less we’ve just moved on without it.

Biski did eventually start sitting, once she saw it as “lying down half-way and getting the treat even sooner.” Our other two whippets? Forget it. But I find they will “stay” and “wait” while standing. That’s good enough.

As long as you’re communicating with your dogs, they know what’s expected and are under control, there’s no reason to get stuck on “Sit.” 

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Filed under Dog Training, Getting a Dog / Adding to the Family

6 responses to “Sighthounds Don’t Sit

  1. Ken

    Bailey will sit when he’s waiting for us to catch up while on The Hill, especially when it’s cold out. Deva would sit on command in puppy school – except for the final graduation test when she refused to do anything. She was not happy to lie down on the hard cement floor either, who can blame her? The both of them will sometimes sit when waiting for someone to let them in or out, but as you posted, it’s not their natural state!


    • sesameseedfund

      C-Biscuit might have lost points in obedience class for not sitting, but she more than made up for it with an exuberant “Come!” response – other puppies wandered around, while Biski went zero-to-thirty and actually knocked me over. Guessing Deva was the same (without knocking you over, probably)?

      • Ken

        Actually she just sort of ambled over slowly, it was the only thing she did that night despite having done everything else in all previous classes. I checked her “sit” once we got home in case she somehow forgot but she did several of them flawlessly, the little turd just decided to go on strike at the final class.

  2. You don’t know how helpful this post was! Our whippet will only sit for a treat when she is on the carpet.. and if in our kitchen (with wooden floor) she will walk over to the mat and then sit. I also was relieved to hear that it sounds normal that our dog goes hypo when visitors come to the door…

    Ahhhh.. only sight hound owners understand!

  3. KrisV.

    Whippets sit when what they are going to sit on will be comfortable for their behinds. They have standards, you know. I’ve never been able to get mine to sit outside on pavement or grass. I get that,”Are you insane? I’m not sitting THERE!” look from my boy.

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