Dear Miss Behavior: Obedience Training

Wondering about why your dog acts a certain way? Looking for ways to change your dog’s behavior? Wanting to better enrich your dog’s life? Lincoln Animal Ambassadors is proud to announce the start of a dog advice column. If you have a question, please ask it below in the comments. An answer will appear in a future post!

Dear Miss Behavior: We taught our puppy to sit on command and we were so proud of her, but now we’re in an Obedience class and all the other dogs sit next to their owners and Sally sits out in front of us.  Did we do something wrong? How can we fix it?


It’s great that you taught Sally to sit. I think that’s fantastic, you didn’t do anything wrong.  Sally doesn’t sit like the other dogs for two reasons. First, she’s been taught to look at your face.  That’s what most people want their dog to do.  Second, you’ve rewarded while she was sitting out in front of you.

Most people who are interested in competing in Obedience want their dog to sit next to them on the left side in ‘Heel’ position.  That way the dog is ready to move with the handler very quickly. If you want to teach Sally to sit by your side, it’s not too hard.

The easiest way to teach her to sit by your side is to lure her back next to you and only give her a reward if she’s next to you.  Hold the food in your left hand, near her nose.  Slowly move your hand in a big counter clockwise circle, horizontally next to you.  If you don’t move your hand too fast she’ll follow your hand and move in a circle too.  That will put her next to you on your left side.  Then tell her to sit and reward her for being next to you.

If you can’t visualize this talk to your instructor and she/he can show you how it’s done. Soon you’ll teach Sally to sit next to you and you’ll be in the Obedience ring earning titles.

Thanks to this feature goes to Greater Lincoln Obedience Club, who ran the Miss Behavior Dog Advice Column in their newsletter. Appreciation also is extended to Marcy Graybill, a trainer at GLOC and the expert behind this column. She also hosts her own blog, Dog Log, where she talks about training adventures with her dogs.

marcygraybillAfter Marcy adopted her first dog in 1988, she began to research about dog care. Research took the form of checking out books and videos to learn how to train Lady. Eventually, Marcy and her sister began taking their dogs to the dog run and taking formal dog classes. For about six years, Marcy volunteered for the Capital Humane Society, where she performed a variety of jobs, and took time to watch the dogs and learn about their behaviors. Currently, she’s an obedience instructor at GLOC. “I think the most important is to keep up to date on what’s going on in the field.  I try to read articles, blogs and  new books that come out, and watch any DVDs that are available.”


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