Thursday, February 10, 2011

Teaching your greyhound to sit.

How to teach your greyhound to sit aka an lazy way to have your dog approximate a sit.

Now I want to be upfront about this, if you are thinking of doing competition with your dog something such as obedience, this isn’t for you. However, if you are thinking it would be sort of nice if my greyhound could “sit” and don’t really want to look at those other posts, then this post is for you!

The end result isn’t all that pretty – but it will do. The directions below are fairly simple and require little work on your part and are well suited if you are not particular about what your sit looks like and or are not the best trainer (ie. me).

Also it doesn’t require you to physically manipulate your dog in an awkward uncomfortable way, which I’m just not coordinated enough for - even if the idea appealed to me. It does require you to use a clicker and for your dog to have an idea what a “down” is. Oh and treats, this is me, so of course there are cookies -when are there not?!

So the pre-requisites.

The clicker or maybe a retractable pen that makes a noise, something. I know I know, I’m also not a fan of having one more “thing” and usually I would say try instead using the word “Yes” but in this particular instance I think you’ll find it super duper helpful to use the clicker or pen; you can buy clickers online or get them at your local pet store. They don’t bite, I promise. You can accidently leave a pen in your pocket from work. If you are to lazy for that try without  - can’t hurt. I support lazy.

Since you’re here and since your already reading this I’ll tell you how I do it. I have a bunch of the awesome treats cut into bite sized pieces mixed with some ordinary kibble. I click then quick, like a ninja on amphetamines, I get that treat or kibble to the dogs mouth. Click – Treat – Click –Treat. You get the idea. I can tell I’m done teaching the dog what the “click” means when I notice a physical reaction to click, you’ll see it in their ears, or mouth, or eyes, even their whole body.

The Down. Once you have a clicker the “down” is also super easy. I suggest doing it the lazy way - by sitting on your couch while watching TV. You are watching your favorite episode of friends, the one where Joey gets his head stuck in the thanksgiving turkey and you see your dog starting to lie down. As he or she lies down you click and toss a treat from the awesomeness that is your comfy couch. Your dog gets up, gets the treat, looks around to see if any more tasty morsels might fall from the sky. When nothing happens he or she eventually lies down again.

When the dog lies down again, you click and toss the treat from the cozy fort you’ve made of the couch cushions (after all it is a re-run) and whole process starts anew. Soon your dog will spot a treat in your hand and think, “you know when I lie down that delectable tidbit has fortuitously ended up in my general area; it might be coming from that appendage with the nifty opposable thumb.” “Hhhhmmm If I lie down now I might get that scrumptious delicacy.” Or he or she might just think “FOOD” and hope that since lying down has worked before it might work again. Either way good enough. You can find great books on how to better train your pooch this is the quick and dirty.

Now your dog either knows the word down or you’ve done the above and he or she will go down in the hopes food will spring forth from your hand. You’ve got a treat, the awesome kind, the kind your dog LOVES, I mean LOVES. You can then ask your dog to down or you can wait until he or she tries to see if down will release the food from your hand.

You wait tensed, clicker/noise thingy in hand and at the ready. Your dog thinking something is broken, after all he or she did what you asked but did not receive aforementioned treat of greatness -usually the dog tries again. (Or if your dog is well trained, you can ask them to get up, but if you have a well trained dog you should probably have quit reading this by now). Back to the moment. This is it the instant you have been working towards - the wait is nearly over - for as he or she gets up there will be a split second when their butt is on the floor and their two paws are straight pulling off the ground.

Click! Now! (Yes! Now!)

Right at that moment! Then as quickly as you can get a piece of that treat into their mouths, think big muscled man crammed into a telephone booth changing into tights and wearing his underwear on the outside, fast.

If they have stood up, that is cool make sure to give them the treat they earned but wait until the moons align and the moment happens again. Now if you dog is so busy chowing down your treat that they have stayed with the butt on the floor by all that is sane keep shoveling the food into the cavernous stomach that is your dog. Feeding him or her like the vending machine for the last bag of overpriced tasty-tasty chips. Anyways, you get the point you keep giving them the kibble treat mix until the dog’s butt comes up off the ground at which point you stop.

Then you start the cycle starts anew.

Now by the end of a week with a few minutes here or there and no real effort I’m guessing you’ll have something that looks like an approximation of sit. If you are more motivated I would say two days and four friends episodes just training on commercials. It might not be pretty, but don’t worry you have a greyhound most people will be so impressed your greyhound can sit they won’t be picky about it, but like I said there are tons of awesome resources that will help you to achieve a precise beautiful sit – this isn’t one of them.

Below is a picture of my foster after two sit training sessions. Yup and this is why all dogs all look similar with one front paw further out than the other.


  1. Haha, we're still working with Bernie! He won't sit on command, even after the training we've done. But, once we let him out in the backyard for a potty break, he voluntarily sits, and gets his butt all cold and wet with snow!

    Weird dog? Yes...

  2. Nice job teaching Jack to sit like Beckett!

  3. I know Robin, when I saw the pictures I quickly solved the mystery of the one paw out further then the other.

  4. I will TRY it! Thanks so much......3 obedience classes, no sit. Lots of other good stuff like a reliable down, but we will try the sit this way. Thanks!

  5. Sandy, I've had really good luck teaching fosters and my own hound to sit this way, it just takes some good timing, great treats, and patience.

  6. Aw yes! Thank you, thank you so much. Just got a rescue greyhound, and never done proper training before (had greyhounds when I was growing up, but as long as they could be pushed off the sofa when we wanted to sit down my parents never really bothered with training as such). My hound is going to be a super hound, I am resolved on this, and your style of writing makes it sound tons of fun. :)

  7. Why bother? My daughter adopted a greyhound in 2/2013 who finds it painful to sit. He's happy just following dogs & humans around, rubbing his head on them and when he's tired, he plops down and sleeps.

  8. I would never suggest you do anything that is painful for your dog (and you know your dog best). However, many, many greyhounds can comfortably sit - they just don't know how.

    Teaching your dog to sit can open up a lot of possibilities for a retired greyhound. Some dogs are perfectly happy doing nothing, but other dogs enjoy doing things, ie. rally, obedience, agility, and therapy dog work. (Some therapy dog certifications do not require a sit from greyhounds - some do). All of these activities can benefit or need a sit. These activities are fun for many dogs and their owners.I personally did rally and Beckett liked it way more than I did.

    You can also get your canine good citizenship, move ahead in dog classes, ect. Just because your dog is retired from racing doesn't mean they don't enjoy doing things and just because they are well behaved doesn't mean they should be left out of the fun that includes training or other dog activities.

    Also you may notice that unlike other sits, the dog isn't balancing on their back legs, this may make it easier for them. I find it simply makes it easier for the dog to understand, since what this really is, is a half down (which most my fosters "get" pretty quickly). It does however produce a crooked sit, I didn't care, even when I was competing I was doing so for fun.

    It is just a different way to try to get your greyhound to sit, one that I've had a lot of luck with.

  9. Mine is weird too! She would randomly sit while we play outside but if I try to get her to sit on command it makes her as stubborn as ever!