Teaching Your Dog to Say Please

August 2019

Audience: Foster Caregivers, Public, Shelter/Rescue Staff & Volunteers

This program creates and maintains a positive, non-confrontational relationship between you and your dog by teaching them to sit (or perform another behavior) in order to get what they want. It also helps your dog learn self-control and build confidence in different environments. A dog who sits every time they want something (e.g. attention from people) is much easier to live with than a dog that hasn't learned to say please and jumps up or barks when they want something.

Do's

  • Teach your dog to 'touch' or 'sit' before participating in the 'Say Please' program.
  • Your dog must 'say please' by performing a cue (e.g. sit, touch) before getting what they want. For example, your dog must sit before being fed, going outside, being petted, putting on the leash, and/or given attention.
  • Ignore all unwanted behavior. Your dog should not get any attention (eye contact, talking to, or physically restraining) when they're barking, jumping, or demanding attention in any way.
  • Use 'Say Please' as an alternative to an unwanted behavior. Have your dog "sit" or "touch" before being let out of their crate, or to sit instead of jumping when you put their leash on. As your dog learns more behaviors you can use those in place of "sit" or "touch".

Don'ts

Don't require that your dog sit before doing things that they do NOT want (e.g. going back indoors if they love being outside, before having a bath, or before having their nails trimmed)

.Don't require older dogs to do exercises that they can't do well or don't need to do. If your dog doesn't jump onto people, they don't need to sit to get attention. Older dogs may have pain and arthritis, so they shouldn't have to sit for everything they want. If they're calm, they can have the things they want for being calm.

Don't ask fearful dogs to do exercises that might make them more fearful, such as making them sit to get petted by someone they're trying to move away from.

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