Many people don’t think about what the criteria should be when a dog is taught to sit on cue. Should it be a straight sit with both hips in alignment with the rest of the body or is it ok for it to be a sloppy sit with the dog laying on one hip? After all, many dog owners are simply pleased that their dog sat. What does it matter what it looks like since a person may not be considering entering their dog in obedience competitions?
It goes beyond just looks. When a dog develops a habit of regularly laying on one hip, to what is frequently referred to as a sloppy sit, the dog isn’t using its muscles on one side. Over time, this will cause muscle imbalance and stiffness in the hips which may lead to other health problems such as the hips becoming misaligned. So it is very important that the dog learns to sit straight and in alignment with the rest of his body.
In the below video, I showed a client, Mike and his dog Benny the importance of teaching a straight sit because Benny had the habit of regularly sitting on his right hip. Watch the video to learn how important the position of the food lure is in obtaining a straight lured sit.
I know firsthand how important this is. I’m currently going through physical therapy for my lower back that was injured during a 2014 car accident. My hips were out of alignment. So the therapists showed me exercises that not only strengthened the imbalanced and weaker muscles but also brought them back into alignment. Many times we change the way we stand or walk to compensate for the injured body part. This will cause muscle imbalance and over time additional structure problems.
As a former athlete (Second Degree Black Belt in Judo, wrestling, and football), I’m use to doing strenuous exercise. So the small movements they asked me to do with my back at first seemed like a waste of time. However, those small movements were critical to properly controlling and protecting my back. It’s the same with teaching a dog to sit. It may seem like a minor manner now but with time it can develop to a major structural problem.
From that personal experience along with what I have learned and continue to learn about K9 Fitness from Erica Boling, Ph.D. of Northeast Canine Conditioning; I see the value in teaching a dog to sit straight for proper body structure and conditioning. It’s not just about looks. Teaching your dog to do a balanced sit will go a long way in promoting your dog’s health.