Dog training: How to teach your dog to sit

One of the first behaviors you will teach your dog is sit. After all, if your dog is sitting, they can’t be jumping on you or running around the house. But many dog owners struggle to get their dog to stay seated. Dogs often pop back up only moments after placing their rear end on the ground. Other times, dogs refuse to sit at all. If you’re struggling to get a solid sit from your dog, read on for tips and a fun trick.

Teach Your Dog to Sit
The most popular way to teach sit is with lure and reward training using a handful of delicious treats. A clicker can also help mark the exact moment your dog sits. To guarantee success, train when your dog is relaxed in an environment without distractions. The following steps will lure a sit:

  1. With your dog standing, hold a treat to their nose.
  2. Slowly lift the treat over their head towards their rear. As your dog lifts their head to follow the treat with their nose, their back end should drop to the ground.
  3. As soon as your dog is in a sitting position, click your clicker and/or praise them and offer the treat as a reward.
  4. To get your dog standing again, either walk away and call them over or toss another treat a few feet away. Then repeat steps 1 to 3.
  5. Once your dog will reliably follow the treat into a sitting position, it’s time to fade the lure. Now use an empty hand to lure the dog and reward the sit with a treat from your other hand. The movement of your empty hand will become your hand signal.
  6. When your dog reliably sits for your empty hand, you can add your verbal cue “Sit” right before you give the hand signal. In time, your dog should respond to the verbal cue alone.

Never push your dog’s hind end down as it can be intimidating and confusing. Also, be sure to present the treat while your dog is sitting to reinforce that position. If you wait until your dog is standing again, or even lure them inadvertently back to a stand as you search for a treat, you will encourage your dog to pop out of their sit right after their rear hits the ground.

If your dog is struggling to understand what you’re asking for, you can also lure them from a down position. Start with them lying on the ground then shape a sit a bit at a time. With a treat at their nose, slowly raise the treat up until they lift their head. Click and/or praise and treat that movement. Next, raise the treat a bit more until they lift their chest off the ground. Continue to raise the treat higher and higher each repetition until they are lifting themselves into a sitting position.

Finally, you can capture a sit. That means whenever your dog sits on their own, you click and/or praise, and reward the behavior. After a while, your dog will start offering you sits just to earn a treat. When that happens, you can add your verbal cue right before your dog is about to sit.

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