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My dog knows how to sit on command. When we are in the house she sits when I tell her to, but when we are outside she doesn't. I'll tell her to sit and she just stands there looking at me like a deer in headlights. Since she's a small miniature pinscher I've even tried crouching down and telling her to sit. I don't know if that's the correct thing to do but I feel like a giant towering over her. What should I be doing? How can I get her to listen to my command when we're outside?
 

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Dogs don't generalize well, so even though she knows "sit" in the house, as you've seen, she doesn't know it outside the house. Plus, there are many more distractions outside competing for her attention.

How long have you been working on "sit"? Have you worked with her in multiple rooms? With different distractions (e.g., tv, other people or animals in the room)? It's going to take many, many repetitions of "sit" in the house before she really knows it and will be able to do it in different environments.

Where outside are you trying? It's usually helpful to start in a relative quiet, familiar place like your backyard and then move to busier locations.

You may also need to increase the value of the reinforcer. If you've been using regular dog treats in the house, you may want to try chicken or cheese or hot dogs when you move outside.

And when she does sit, increase the rate of reinforcement. You might give her a treat (or other reinforcer) every time she sits the first time you move outside. The next time, treat every other sit. Then slowly move to a variable ratio schedule.
 

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Dogs don't generalize well, so even though she knows "sit" in the house, as you've seen, she doesn't know it outside the house. Plus, there are many more distractions outside competing for her attention.

How long have you been working on "sit"? Have you worked with her in multiple rooms? With different distractions (e.g., tv, other people or animals in the room)? It's going to take many, many repetitions of "sit" in the house before she really knows it and will be able to do it in different environments.

Where outside are you trying? It's usually helpful to start in a relative quiet, familiar place like your backyard and then move to busier locations.

You may also need to increase the value of the reinforcer. If you've been using regular dog treats in the house, you may want to try chicken or cheese or hot dogs when you move outside.

And when she does sit, increase the rate of reinforcement. You might give her a treat (or other reinforcer) every time she sits the first time you move outside. The next time, treat every other sit. Then slowly move to a variable ratio schedule.
^^^ this!!!! :)

i will add, work on sit in all different places in the house, different rooms, different levels of distraction etc, and when she sits every time, move the training to the lowest distraction place you can find outside, and start over (maybe out on the porch, or in a quiet corner of the yard) if you have to keep her leashed at first, so that she doesn't wander off ;)



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Excellent advice above. I've trained myself to not think of "Sit" (or other commands) as one skill, instead I see it as a group of skills, where "sit-at-home","sit-in-well-known-street","sit-in-crazy-distracting-harbour" is different skills and the level of competence in each needs to be trained separately, sometimes it's almost like starting all over again. No idea if this represents the dogs mental model, but it keeps my own expectations lower (and therefore frustration) and reminds me to actually do training in different settings.
 
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