How to train a dog to Sit

One of the first commands to teach your dog is “sit,” other than potty training—which should be your top priority. Training your dog to sit on cue is fairly straightforward, and it’s typically the first command that dogs learn in basic obedience training.

Stay tuned as we share our favorite strategies on how to train a dog to sit.

The Sit command is a great way of getting your dog to settle down when she’s overly excited. It’s useful in a variety of scenarios from getting her to sit at curbs so you can both cross safely to calming her on your walks when she gets agitated.

What’s more, the training period you have with your dog is a great way of establishing a lasting bond and helps define your role as the handler, and she’s the trainee.

Once she’s learned to sit on cue, you’ll be able to command her attention and focus which will help lay the groundwork for other more advanced obedience commands such as heel, stay, roll over, etc.

When it comes to dog training, there’s more than one way of getting the job done, from alpha training to clicker training. Some are better suited to adult dogs while some are for puppies.

Before we delve into our favorite ways on how to train a dog to sit, here’s a brief on the proper sit position.

The Proper Sit Position

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The correct sit position involves her firmly planting her bottom and hocks on the ground.

Remember to keep an eye on her since some dogs can be little minxes and hover slightly above the ground instead of having their behinds planted on the ground.

You want to reward her with a treat only when she has a behind on the ground. She may stay in the sit position for a while until you release her as with most dog trainers, but this doesn’t always happen unless you’ve already taught her how to stay.

Get The Right Treats

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Since our main focus will be food lure training, you’ll need plenty of treats to have an effective training session. Try and go for small bite-size treats, these could be either a tiny piece of food or her favorite toy.

The goal here is to get a lure—something that will motivate her to do what you want.

As long as the treat or toy is very enticing to her, you can get her to do pretty much anything when you show it to her, give a cue and maneuver the treat to get the desired behavioral response.

The treats could be store bought or pieces of healthy human dishes that are safe for dogs from a hearty piece of chicken to a delicious apple slice to a carrot. Don’t overcomplicate things here, as long as it’s tastier than her regular meals she’ll want it.

However, some human foods are harmful to your canine companion such as chocolate, raisin, grapes, etc. so it’s vital you do your due diligence.

Additionally, if you’re dealing with an overweight dog, then you should consider getting diet treats.

Get Her Attention

Like every other dog training technique, the first step on how to train a dog to sit is to command her attention. A great way of doing this to simply stand in front of her and have her face you; all of her attention will be directed to you, and she can see and hear you.

Introduce the Lure

Now that you have her attention, it’s time for you to introduce the treat. Hold it in the palm of your hand and let her see it, smell it and perhaps even lick it—if you’ve got fast reflexes.

Now that she knows you have a tasty treat, she’ll be eager to find out how she can get it.

The Maneuver

With the treat in the palm of your hand, make a fist so she won’t be able to nip the treat from you and have her smell it. While her attention and nose are focused on the treat, slowly move the treat to the back of her head.

You’ll notice her looking upward at the treat and closely following it with her nose and eye, and in the process, she’ll sit with her behind, and hocks firmly planted on the ground.

It’s important you hold the treat close to her head because if it’s far enough, she may try lunging at the treat and won’t sit. Additionally, she may decide to step back as she follows the treat instead of looking up at you in which case, it would be better to practice indoors.

Preferably in a corner or next to a wall, so she doesn’t have enough room to withdraw.

You also want to make sure her hocks and behind are in full contact with the ground if not, a gentle push should do the trick but be sure to maintain the position of the treat while doing it.

Introduce the Command and treat

Once her behind hits the floor, be sure to introduce the “sit” command in a firm voice and then give her the treat. It’s important that you keep verbalization to a minimum, i.e., if she doesn’t comply or move from the sit position, don’t issue any other verbal cues like “stop” or “no.”

It’ll be much easier for you both if you stick to one verbal cue at a time so she can learn to associate that one word with the required behavioral response. Additionally, you don’t want to repeat the verbal command more than once.

Otherwise, she may learn that a few reiterations of the command are acceptable before she decides to comply or obey.

It’s important to remember that dogs don’t speak English and the “sit” word can be easily substituted with “booyah,” and you could still get her to sit.

The key to training your dog to sit on command lies in your dog’s ability to associate the word with the behavior. If your puppy doesn’t immediately comply, then it could be because you’re moving too fast with her training and using a leash could help you get an immediate behavioral response.

Congratulate her efforts

Don’t forget to include secondary reinforcers like praising her and giving her a congratulatory pat on the back. It can be anything from patting her on the head to rubbing her stomach as well as uttering congratulatory words such as “good girl” or “atta girl.”

Since dogs are always eager to please, showering her with praise and affection after completing a task is a great way to motivate and make her remember.

It’s a positive reinforcement learning technique in dogs designed to promote good behavior much like clicker training.

Release her

Now that she’s complied with your commands, it’s time for you to release her. Feel free to be creative with your release command her as long as you’re consistent with it.

We recommend using simple words like “okay” or “release” while walking away from your dog and simultaneously encourage her to follow.

Now that you’ve grasped the basics of how to train a dog to sit, we’ll be answering some commonly asked questions with regards to dog training.

FAQ: How long should you train your puppy?

First of all, you don’t need to train your puppy in a single session every day. Experts recommend breaking down your training session into 5-minute sessions spread throughout the day—perhaps 2 to 3 session a day for a total of 15 minutes a day.

It’s important that your family members are on board with your dog’s training schedule and that they each take turns training her.

Additionally, it’s important that you’re consistent and committed to training her every day for at least a year to have an obedient dog.

To get better results much quicker, be sure to integrate the sit command in a variety of scenarios while interacting with your dog. For instance, you could issue the sit command before serving up dinner, or before going for a walk or even before petting.

Basically, any time that she wants something from you is a great opportunity for you to reinforce her training. By doing this, over time, she’ll learn you’re the boss, you’re in charge of the resources, and she will learn the rules of engagement when interacting with you.

What do your dog is too distracted to focus on training?

We recommend doing your dog training in a quiet, distraction-free environment. Somewhere your dog is comfortable being—not somewhere new, and you won’t be disturbed.

It can be indoor like the basement or living room when no one is around or after informing your cohabitant of your dog training endeavors.

Ideally, you’re looking for somewhere that will make it easy to confine your dog, restrict their movement, and activity to get their undivided attention.

With bucket loads of patience, consistency, and dedication; any dog can be trained to sit regardless of their age.