Everybody wants to have a well trained dog, and all dog training begins with sit! The sit command is one of the most natural and most basic dog behaviours that any dog can learn. However, teaching the command sit to a puppy, or even to an older dog can be challenging. If you are struggling to teach your dog how to sit on command, you are in luck!
We will share pointers for teaching your dog to sit on command in the simplest way, as after all, this is the base for further trick or obedience training. Keep reading to start learning.
Teach Your Dog to Sit on Command
As mentioned before, any dog can learn how to sit at any stage of their lives as long as they do not have any mobility issues. The trick is learning what type of pup you have, whether they are easily guided but treat lures, or if they need a bit of physical help. Either way, grab your treats, and let's get to training!
Treat Lure Method
This method is most likely the easiest way to teach your pup to sit. Not only will they be excited, attentive, and motivated by the treats, but this method also capitalizes on their natural movements.
The steps to follow for the lure method are below.
Step 1: Using some sort of treat as a reward (I typically use Zuke's training treats but you can use chopped meat as well), hold your hand holding the treat in front of your dog as they stand.
Step 2: With the same hand slowly move your hand toward your pup's nose making sure they do not swipe it from you.
Step 3: From their nose, move the treat slowly to a space just above their forehead.
Step 4: As you move the treat, your dog should sit their bottom on the ground as their head moves up to a point where they need to sit.
Step 5: Once you see your pooch starting to make the sit motion, say the command "sit" and reward immediately once they are in a full sit.
BOOM! You are done! Follow these steps a few more times through until your good boy or good girl gets the motion down, and over time phase out the hand movement and try to go off of the verbal cue.
Don't worry if the treat lure method did not work with your pup, there is still hope to teach them how to sit! Often when a dog cannot learn behaviours with a treat lure it is because they are easily distracted, or they are either uninterested or overly interested in the lure. Whichever reason it is, ensure that you try to teach your dog in the least distracting environment you can find.
Since the lure method is out the window, you must now try a method which involves guiding your pup to sit, a bit harder, but still possible. Before you start, you may want to grab a harness and leash to keep your pooch still.
The steps to follow for the guided method are below.
Step 1: Have your dog secured by harness and leash, and gain their attention without exciting them too much.
Step 2: Standing beside your dog, push gently on their body just above their hind legs.
Step 3: If your dog sits from this guidance, perfect! Reward your pup with a treat and try to have them hold the position for a bit. If they do not sit, give them a short break, and try step 2 again.
Step 4: Once your dog begins to sit with the gentle guidance, start to use the command "sit" as you repeat the behaviour. Continue to reward when your pup successfully does a sit.
Step 5: Repeat these steps and slowly push less and less, until you can have them sit without any guidance at all.
Now you have done it! With a little bit of work, your dog can now sit on command!
General Tips for Training
Dogs are very intelligent animals, and can be taught hundreds or even thousands of tricks and commands, however, as a owner or trainer, we must be wary of a few things when training.
The first thing to pay attention to is if your dog is getting frustrated. Just like humans, when dogs are learning new things, they will often get frustrated and confused. When a dog is confused they may start to lose attention, bark, or even do something completely different than what you are trying to get them to do. It is important to be aware of this and give your dog breaks when they become confused. Keeping training sessions to 5-10 minutes is a great way to deal with this.
Secondly, (almost) every dog is driven by food. When training your dog, treats should be provided immediately after they do the correct behaviour. This way, they will know they did something that earned them a reward, and will be more likely to repeat the behaviour. You can also scale treats to reward how well the behaviour was done, for example, kibble for doing the behaviour with assistance (physical or motions), a training treat for doing the behaviour with less assistance, and a high level reward like chicken for doing the behaviour on their own after being commanded.
Setting a Base for Further Training
"Sit" is one of the most useful base tricks that a dog can learn. From here there are hundreds of tricks that you can build into, such as paw, sit pretty, stand, and many more. Additionally, learning how to teach your dog to sit will help you better understand how they learn and how they are motivated, which will not only help you train them better going forward, but will also increase the bond that the two of you share.