When you get a new dog, training it to do a load of tricks is probably one of the first things on your mind, especially if you get a puppy. “Sit” is the easiest and most common command to adopt for any dog. It’s also very useful when it comes to training other commands, such as “paw” or “stay.”
However, things may be a little more difficult than you first thought if you get a Greyhound. In fact, there are myths flying around that Greyhounds can’t sit at all.
Is it Possible for Greyhounds to Sit?
The fact that Greyhounds can’t sit is just that – a myth. However, it is actually way more difficult for them to sit than other dogs. While it is physically possible for them to sit, their long legs and spine make the sitting position very uncomfortable.
Instead, when you teach the sit command, they are more likely to sit with their hind legs to the side or lay slightly, in the sphinx position. This makes the position of their hips more comfortable in relation to the rest of their body.
Why is Sitting Easy for Other Dogs?
Sit training is easy for most dogs. It is a relatively easy action to complete. They simply push their bum down to the floor and will receive praise and even a treat for doing so. What could be better?
The word is also short and sharp in the English language, meaning it’s easier for the dog to remember and relate to the action. When you first train your dog, you should also use a hand command for sitting. This means that your dog can relate to the action too.
As your puppy ages, you will be able to simply use the word or the hand command to achieve the correct response.
Most dogs prefer to sit rather than lay down. This is because they feel less vulnerable on the floor. So “sit” is often much easier to train than “down.”
Why Can’t Greyhounds Sit?
Greyhounds are the opposite way around, so this could take some getting used to. While they can understand the command, sometimes it’s very uncomfortable for them to sit.
Greyhounds can reach 27-20 inches high at the shoulder. Their backs are around 30 inches long, with the neck adding an extra few inches on top of this. As they are very long and thin, their breadth simply doesn’t support the weight. This means they could easily lose balance and fall over.
The length of their legs also means that their knees will hit their chest when they sit properly. These issues with discomfort and instability make Greyhounds feel more vulnerable in the sitting position than they would laying down. After all, they are built for speed and could easily spring up if they needed to, just like a racer out of the gate.
Can Ex-racing Greyhounds sit?
It’s also important to remember that if you have an ex-racing Greyhound, they may not have ever learned to sit. Sit training isn’t something that racing dogs are trained in.
Unlike other puppies who go into a family home, they grow up in kennels with other dogs. There is no requirement for them to learn normal commands. They simply need to understand their racing duties.
This might mean that your dog doesn’t learn the sit command until they’re around 3 years old and have retired into a home. While the phrase “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks” isn’t strictly true, it certainly is harder to teach them later in life.
In older dogs that are ex-racers, it may even be impossible to sit down. This is because overworked hips or dogs with hip dysplasia will struggle to bend that way.
Understanding Your Greyhound’s Training Limitations
So, your Greyhound may not physically be able to sit in the normal way. However, it is still important to train them in the basics. Dogs actually enjoy being trained. It stimulates their brain and gives them something to do. It also helps you to develop that bond you have. They will begin to see you more as the alpha of their pack and will love you even more than they already do.
To make them comfortable, you should be happy with your Greyhound “sitting” in the sphinx position. This will be their version of sit.
However, it’s not just the Greyhound’s build that might hinder your sit training. Dog behaviorists do rank Greyhounds as 86th in the list of intelligent dogs. Not only is your Greyhound cute, cuddly, and lovable, but they’re intelligent too.
Originally, when Greyhounds were bred in the Middle East, they were required to be quite independent. They needed to hunt down the prey and chase it down without the help or instruction of their owner. This means that they have a tendency to do as they please if they don’t want to do what you’re asking.
They will also try to find loopholes in your training. They don’t want to upset you but equally, they don’t want to obey either. So they will try to enact other commands to avoid doing what you ask. They may lay down or roll over if you ask them to sit, thinking this is good enough. Don’t fall for it! Although it’s cute, you need to establish the sitting position that you’ve agreed is comfortable and maintain it. You shouldn’t be happy until they’ve done as you’ve asked.
How to Train Your Greyhound to Sit
Once you’ve established the sitting position you want to aim for, you should begin sit training in the normal way. They are intelligent, so they will pick it up. Just remember to be patient!
- Clear a room – so they have no distractions and no other people.
- Don’t use a slippery surface. A carpet is preferable.
- Grab a treat and ensure your Greyhound is standing with their attention on the treat.
- Place the treat between your two fingers and thumb with your palm facing the ceiling.
- Say “sit” firmly and clearly. Raise your hand above your dog’s head, pulling the treat in towards you. This is the universal hand command for sit.
- As you move your hand, their head should raise up and their bum should automatically go down.
- Praise them and give them the treat.
- Repeat as much as needed.
Once your dog has it nailed, you should still reinforce it regularly. This is to ensure they remember it and to show them that you remember it. If they think you’ve forgotten, they will use that to their advantage.
Your dog may also make the mistake of jumping up for the treat or moving back to get a better look. If they do either of these things, don’t reward them. Go back to the original spot and start again. They will learn that they only get the treat if they do it right.
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