Beginning the "Third Action"
The "Sit" command
By Jim & Phyllis Dobbs and Alice Woodyard
The "Third Action"
In the Third Action, the dog learns that becoming stationary turns
off mild stimulation. This knowledge is the foundation for collar
corrections for the sit-stay and down-stay exercises, the Novice and
Utility stands, the signal drop and the drop on recall.
There are three stationary positions--sitting, lying down, and standing.
To introduce the concept of the Third Action to the dog, you should
select only one of these and work on it until your dog understands
how to respond to the collar in that stationary situation. Do not
confuse the beginner by trying to teach him all three stationary positions
at once. He won't "get it."
This article will describe the procedure for "Sit." Later articles
will cover "Down" and "Stand." Your dog must already know the command
you'll be working on, but doesn't need to be very reliable at it.
You should use low-level continuous stimulation for these training
Up until now, the dog has learned to move to turn off the collar.
Now we want him to learn the opposite: become stationary, and don't
move. To make it easier for the dog to learn this idea, "point of
contact" training can be helpful.
"Point of contact" training places the stimulation in a position
on the dog that tends to elicit the movement you want. So if you are
training "sit," initially place the receiver on the top of the rump.
If you are training "down," at first place it on the back of the neck.
If you are training "stand," start with it on the dog's belly.
At first, use a lower plug than your normal training plug, because
the dog may be more sensitive in these areas of his body. Be sure
to start with your # 1 (brown) plug. If you train with a model that
has variable contact points instead of plugs (such as The Companion),
use the new, extra low, # 1/2 (blue) contact point to begin with.
Start with the dog on leash for his first few lessons. Place the
collar around his waist with the receiver over his rump. When you
first place a collar in this position, have the dog sit quietly and
get used to it before he moves around. Otherwise, some dogs will overreact
to the feel of the strap around their flank.
Now have him sit as you move away, but don't tell him to stay. You
want him to try to get up. The moment he does, press the button and
give him the "sit" command. Step toward him if necessary and control
him with the leash to stop any forward motion.
The moment he's sitting again, release the button and praise him
calmly. Don't worry if he sits slowly at first; this is caused by
the feel of the strap on his flanks. Once he realizes that sitting
turns off the collar, he'll respond more quickly.
If your praise causes him to get up again, press the button and cheerfully
repeat "Sit." Release the button when he sits back down. He'll realize
that praise isn't a release command, and breaking his sit still "turns
on" the collar.
Repeat until the dog wants to stay sitting. Pull gently forward on
the leash as "proofing" to test his resolve to stay seated. Praise
him when you see him brace to resist the leash pressure.
"Sit" from Motion
Now walk with the dog (no attention--this isn't formal "heeling").
Immediately after making an about turn with the dog, press the button
and command "Sit." Swing around and step quickly in front of the dog
to block forward motion, and release the button when he sits. Praise
him as you face him and back away to the end of the leash. Pull gently
on the leash to remind him to stay seated, and praise him when you
see him resisting the pull.
Repeat this sequence often, over several short sessions, to make
sure that the dog has a chance to make the equation: "My butt goes
on the ground, and the collar turns off." Remember, he already knows
the word "sit," and this knowledge, plus your body language blocking
him, is going to cause him to sit, stimulation or no stimulation.
Just because he's sitting every time doesn't mean he has made the
specific association you want.
The signal you're looking for in most dogs is an "extra quick" motion
at going into the sit. This signal (repeated consistently) tells you
that the dog realizes that putting his butt on the ground is what
"turns off" the collar. Be sure to give him enough repetition at this
stage for him to learn.
When you see him responding promptly to the "Sit" command and sitting
reliably, phase out use of stimulation with each "Sit" command. From
now on, only use stimulation if you must give the command a second
Weaning The Dog off "Point-of-Contact"
When the dog is responding well to the collar, and you're consistently
getting the sits you want, it's time to wean him off of "point-of-contact."
To do this, put the collar in its regular position on the dog's neck
(adjusting the intensity plug to his regular training plug), and repeat
every step you took in the training sequence, just as though "starting
The difference now is how long you need to spend at each step. You
may be able to complete several steps in each training session, whereas
the first time around it may have taken several sessions per step.
Let the dog's success at each step be your guide as to how
fast you can proceed during the weaning phase.
Putting a "Stop" on the Moving Dog
Now it is time to teach the dog a nice, crisp "stop" as part of his
stationary action. A good "stop" prevents the dog from creeping before
he sits. Despite reinforcement from the collar for "Sit," some dogs
will develop the habit of "coasting" into a sit unless they're taught
to stop quickly before sitting.
To teach the dog to stop promptly when asked to sit from motion,
you should now integrate the platform into your Third Action training.
The dog must already be familiar with the platform from his training
on the Second Action, as described in our last three articles. You'll
use the platform to put a "stop" on the moving dog at the same time
that he assumes the desired stationary position on your command.
To incorporate the platform, jog toward the platform with the dog
on leash. Just as the dog is about to step up onto the platform, command
"Sit." You continue to jog past the platform, leaving the dog sitting
The first few times do not use electrical stimulation; just help
the dog if it seems that he won't stop and sit on the platform. However,
most dogs that have done work with the platform under our program
will immediately see the platform as a familiar cue, and will "lock
up" and stay on it without stepping off.
After the dog is familiar with what you'll be doing, begin using
low-level stimulation if he steps off the platform to follow you.
"Sit" at a Distance
At this point, the dog is ready to begin "random sits," where you
give him the sit command when he's at a distance from you. Release
the dog, and let him wander off until he's about 15 feet away. Give
your first "Sit" command without stimulation ("Name, Sit" if
this is how you've trained him). If the dog is slow to respond or
moves toward you as he thinks about responding, quickly give a second
command (in the same tone of voice) with stimulation and step
at the dog. If, however, he gives you a nice, prompt sit-in-place
on the first command, without coming toward you, go to him, praise
him and reward him !
Repeat this for several training sessions. Gradually increase the
distance to about 60 feet, and sometimes give the command while the
dog is in motion. You can also practice quick sits in the middle of
play sessions when the dog is excited. If he gives you a nice, quick
sit, immediately release and reward him with more play. Reinforce
slow sits with the collar as you repeat the command.
First Appeared in:
Front & Finish