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 (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.
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.
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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