Teaching your dog to sit is a basic but essential skill. Dogs need to be taught to sit for many reasons, including:
- As a cue to start or stop an activity
- To ask permission before going places or taking something
- In emergency situations, such as when you drop something hot on the ground
Here are a few things to keep in mind when teaching your dog to sit:
- Use treats as reinforcement
- Be consistent with your commands
- Start with short training sessions
- Reward your dog for good behavior
Lure and Reward Method
There are various ways to teach dogs to sit, but one of the most popular and widely used methods is the lure and reward method. With this method, you will use a treat to lure your dog into the sitting position and then immediately give them the treat as a reward for sitting. This is particularly effective for puppies who have short attention spans, but you can hold their attention long enough with a tasty treat.
Here’s how to do it:
1. Start with your dog in a standing position.
2. Hold a treat close to their nose so they can smell it, but don’t let them have it yet.
3. Slowly move the treat upwards and backwards over their head. As you do this, their bottom should start to lower into a sitting position.
4. Once their bottom hits the ground, say “yes!” or “good dog!” in a happy voice and give them the treat.
5. Repeat this process several times until your dog is consistently sitting when you lure them with the treat.
Once your dog is responding well to the lure and reward method, you can start to phase out the treats and replace them with praise or other rewards, such as petting or a favorite toy.
Use Hand Signals
In addition to using verbal commands, you should also incorporate hand signals to cue your dog to sit. Dogs respond much better and faster to hand signals than they do to verbal commands, so using hand signals is a great way to speed up the learning process.
Here’s how to do it:
- Start with your dog in a standing position and your hand open, palm facing towards them at waist level.
- Bring your hand up and back towards their head, keeping your palm facing them the whole time.
- As you do this, say the command “sit” in a clear voice.
- Once they are in the sitting position, immediately give them a treat or praise and pet them.
- Repeat this process until your dog is responding consistently to the hand signal.
You can start the hand signal motion with a treat in hand to start. They may associate the treat and the hand motion as being the same as the lure and reward motion, which is okay. As they start to catch on, you will be able to phase out the treat and just use the hand signal.
The touch method is another popular way to train dogs to sit. With this method, you will physically touch your dog in a specific spot on their body that will cue them to sit.
Here’s the steps for using the touch method:
- Start with your dog in a standing position and your hand open, palm facing towards them.
- Place your hand on their back, just behind their shoulder blades.
- Say the command “sit” in a clear voice.
- As you say this, gently push
To do this, simply follow the same steps as the lure and reward method, but instead of moving the treat over their head, move it down to their chest and then back up again. This will cause them to lower their head and sit back on their haunches.
Be sure to praise and reward your dog immediately after they sit so they know that they have done the correct behavior.
The touch method is especially helpful when you are not facing your dog and they are distracted by whatever is taking place in front of them. Your dog may feel comfortable with listening to your sitting command while keeping their eyes on the target at hand.
This method is also helpful if you have a dog that is resistant to treats or not food motivated. You can still use praise and petting as rewards instead of treats.
Here are some additional tips to help you train your dog to sit:
Be sure to use a consistent command when cueing your dog to sit. Whether you say “sit,” “sitz,” or “settle,” use the same word each time so they know what you want them to do.
Be consistent with your rewards. If you are using treats, give them a treat every time they sit on command. If you are using praise or petting as rewards, be sure to give them each time they do as you ask.
Never punish your dog for not sitting when you ask them to. This will only confuse them and make them less likely to respond to the command in the future.
Practice makes perfect! The more you work with your dog on this command, the better they will become at it. Set aside some time each day to practice so they can really solidify the behavior.
If you are having trouble getting your dog to respond to the command, seek out the help of a professional dog trainer. They can help you troubleshoot any issues and get your dog sitting like a pro in no time!
Thin sitting dog portrait with tree from rawpixel.com via CC0 1.0