Does your dog know to sit? Training a dog the “sit” command is the first training exercise you should attempt and one of the most important commands your dog will ever learn. It helps with teaching good manners and is useful for keeping your dog under control. And it is one of the easiest dog obedience commands to teach, so it’s a good one to start with.
Read on for easy steps to teach your dog to sit when asked.
1. Appropriate Environment
The training environment should be an area where your dog is comfortable and relatively free of distractions. An indoor room can be an ideal place where you have more control over your dog’s activity level and can limit his ability to concentrate better. An outdoor training environment is uncontrolled and has more distractions.
2. Treat Preparation
Before you begin, make sure you have training treats to offer your dog. These treats should be soft, small, and highly appealing to your dog.
3. Show the Treat
Take a treat and show it to your pet. When your dog shows interest in it, he will follow it with his head, trying to get at it. Hold the treat above your dog’s head so he looks up, then take it to just behind his nose so that he has to move his head backward. And move your hand in an arc over his head. The only way your dog can reach the treat is to put his bottom on the floor. If your dog’s bottom isn’t fully reaching the ground, you can help by gently easing him into a full sit position while keeping the treat in the same position. If your dog tries to back up to follow the treat rather than raising his head and sitting, try the treat trick indoors in a corner to start with. This will limit the dog’s ability to move backward and may facilitate the sitting. As soon as your dog’s rear lands on the ground, say “yes!” or “good dog” in an upbeat tone (or, click your clicker). Immediately give your dog the treat followed by petting and praising.
Practice this several times in short but regular sessions. Within a few attempts, your dog will know how to earn his click and treat, and his sit response will get quicker.
Reinforce the treat reward with praise. Rub his head and use words such as “good boy”. This reinforces the fact that he did something that pleased you. Do this every time your dog completes the sit action during the training session.
5. Use Hand Signal with Voice Cue
As the dog always gets a treat for sitting you’ll soon find he sits for longer. You can now add the cue word “sit!” and hand signal as he goes to sit. Be careful not to say it before your dog moves into position or they may associate it with the wrong movement.
Now take away the food lure and instead introduce a hand signal and voice cue. Say “sit” and raise your hand vertically in front of you. If your dog sits, praise and reward. So he learns to associate the word with the action.
If they don’t sit, return to steps three and four if your dog needs a bit more practice sitting.
When he fully understands what is expected to use the gesture and say “Sit” as your dog sits, that is consistent among all people training your dog. Now you have added the cue, with practice you will be able to ask him to sit rather than lure him into position with the treat.
6. Practice With Cue Word
Once your dog has mastered the hand signal with voice cue, you can train them to respond just to the voice cue. Say “sit”, wait three seconds, and then give the hand signal, praise, and reward your dog when they sit.
Repeat this, each time increasing the number of seconds between the voice cue and the hand signal.
Repeat the exercise as often as possible. In order for your dog to learn to associate the act of sitting with the word “sit,” you’ll have to practice often. Try staying close to your dog for half an hour to an hour, using the above technique to train your dog each time he sits.
If your dog can’t sit up on his own after a few attempts, avoid forcing him into a sitting position. Dogs often don’t learn well this way. Also, avoid yelling or punishment. Dogs rarely respond to negative reinforcement and only get confused. Instead, consider trying more valuable foods such as fresh meat, hot dog pieces, string cheese, or liverwurst.
If you still have trouble getting your dog to sit with valuable food, consider marking the behavior. Spend some time observing your dog. Anytime your dog sits naturally, praise, and reward him by saying the word “sit.” Every time you see your dog sitting, try this. You’ll want to have a snack with you at all times to make this method very effective. Also, it’s fairly easy to capture the behavior with a clicker. Once your dog knows how to sit on cue, the sit command can be trained in different locations and with various levels of distractions. This is called proving the behavior and ensures that your dog obeys the command whenever and wherever it’s given.
So according to the above steps, repeat this sequence a few times every day until your dog has it mastered. Then ask your dog to sit before mealtime, when leaving for walks, and during other situations where you’d like him calm and seated. The sit command is often the first one that puppies learn and it will be useful their entire lives. It also sets up the basic training relationship between dog and handler. Ensure that your pup has a positive experience and they will want to continue learning throughout their life.