March 2, 2012 by Shannon
When I was teaching classes one of the things I saw and heard a lot was people giving their dogs double commands. It may not seem like a big deal, but when we are trying to teach our dogs what commands mean, giving them an action with not one but TWO words attached to it is just setting them up for failure. The general rule for commands is one word to one action. Period.
For example, when you ask your dog to sit, the command is “Sit.” That’s it. Not “Sit, sit, sit…siiiiiiiit. Hey, SIT! SIT!” It is just “Sit.” It is also not “Sit down.” When you say this, you are in effect telling your dog to not only Sit, but to go into a Down also. It is when commands such as these are given that we see owners start to get very discouraged because they are not getting the consistent response from their dog that they want. Sit and Down are two totally different commands and two totally different positions.
I used to carry a squirt bottle around in class and squirt every person I heard using double commands or confusing commands. “Off” and “Down” are two more that are often confused. When your dog jumps up on you or someone else, furniture or whatever it is that you do not want them on, the correct command is “Off!” It should be delivered like you mean it. It is not a request. It is also not “Down!” Down is lying on the ground. Do not confuse your dog by mixing your commands and actions. It cannot mean to get off of something/someone AND to lie down on the floor. It has to be one or the other.
Very simple, yet difficult for many owners to grasp. If you simply think of what it is you are asking the dog to do, it makes perfect sense. Successful training is all about setting our dogs up for success. These simple tips will go a long way toward having a more reliably trained dog and a more confident handler.