Sitting at the roadside

I’ll preface this by stating I am not anti “sit”. Training behaviours is a valuable way to build close relationships with our dogs, and teach them behaviours that allow them to live alongside us with greater ease and with a lack of conflict.

Two of my 3 dogs are older now, so sitting is not on their agenda, it’s uncomfortable for them.
So you won’t ever see my dogs sitting by the roadside until it is clear for us to cross…but…you never would have when they were young either

I have never found much value in teaching my dogs to sit by the roadside. It tends to add a lot of unnecessary faff. I teach my dogs to walk politely, next to me and attentively. This means when I stop, they tend to stop too. I don’t have any need for a sit.

When I’m working with a distracted dog, or a dog who pulls, I will often be told how the dog will sit next to a road…But this often fuels the pulling even further.

When you ask your inattentive dog to sit by the road, they learn a few lessons. One such lesson is your main interactions on a walk is to ask your dog to control themselves. This ends up making you into the fun police without you even trying!

It can be stressful for an anxious dog, or one who finds their environment overwhelming. Being in a sit can be a vulnerable position for them, particularly if not one thoroughly proofed and understood well. They may well find it confusing.

Along with that, more often than not, the dog will then be released to cross the road. This often involves quite a spectacular display, with the dog leaping up and running ahead, or even owners letting out their flexi lead so they can forge ahead.

It creates a dog like a coiled spring, ready to fly across the road. The dog is rarely looking towards their owner, but instead across the road. They get rewarded for their focus being faaar away from you. Decreasing your dogs value in you.

Teaching a dog to find value in their owner, so they aren’t forging ahead is often going to get a dog who walks nicer and stops with you by the side of the road anyway without prompting them. This feels safer than a dog who values the other side more than you.

If you want to encourage your dog to pay more attention on your walks, try getting some super tasty treats and practicing lead walking and training games at home or in the garden.

The higher the distractions, the higher the pay. Try using treats such as tiny pieces of cooked chicken, cheese, cocktail sausage.

Remember that training should be fun, so keep training sessions short and sweet.