How to Train Your Dog to Sit

Whether you have a new puppy or an untrained old dog, these steps can help you teach your dog to sit:

  1. Choose your setting wisely
    For your dog’s training, you should choose a distraction-free location where you are in control. All training should be fun for both you and your dog. Short, little fun packed sessions yield better success than long sessions. Practicing your training sessions both on and off leash (safe and secure location)!
  2. Keep a foot on the leash
    While allowing some slack on the lead, by pinning the leash at a set distance it will ensure you dog doesn’t stray too far while you are training. Reduce slack enough that they can move but not jump up or wander far.
  3. Place your treat hand above your dog’s head.
    Put a dog treat between your first two fingers and place your hand palm-side up at a 45-degree angle about six inches from your dog’s nose. This is the ‘sit’ exercise and the strategic placement gets your dog to move into a sitting position as they are trying to get a good look at the treat in your hand.
  4. Say “sit.”
    As your dog moves into the sitting position clearly say “sit”. Make sure you are clear and DON”T nag by repeating your cue word.
  5. Offer the reward to your dog.
    As soon as your dog sits, give them the treat, make a fuss and praise them with “good girl/boy!”. Ensure they are fully sitting not just hovering on their heels. Don’t praise until they do it correctly.
  6. Repeat.
    Repeat this process for up to 8-10 reps at a time. Practice makes perfect and repetition helps them learn faster. Always ensure you reset before starting the exercise each time (ie: fully standing back to fully sitting prior to offering the treat and praise).

After your dog starts to respond to these cues at a high level, you can begin to randomly reward them. You don’t want to be held hostage to offering treats at every cue word long-term. You can switch and mix it up with using treats with praise and encouragement as they will thrive on that response also. Increase difficulty by removing the leash constraints and introducing distractions as they learn to perform in more situations. Remember, your dog’s attention span is not endless. Short sessions will gain better results and before you know it, they will be sitting without hesitation.

At Positive Puppies we offer training classes that will help you understand your dog and cover a range of exercises and skills – contact us for more details.

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