Sitting on command is one of the earliest, most important and useful lessons you’ll teach your new dog. Not only is the sit command an effective way to keep him from jumping on unsuspecting guests, but it’s also useful for keeping your dog safe when walking off-leash and away from your kitchen counter and table. Getting your dog to relate the word to the action can be challenging, but with patience and persistence, your dog will sit on command for anyone who asks.
Treats and Praise
Training your dog is much easier when you have a treat or two in your pocket. Before teaching your dog to sit, have a handful of treats in your hand. Always reward desired behavior with a treat immediately after he performs his task. Praise him using a sweet, gentle voice, and be consistent. When your dog associates treats and praise with good behavior, he is more likely to seek treats and praise by practicing it.
How to Teach Your Dog to Sit
Your dog doesn’t want to spend all day on his sitting lesson and neither do you. Keep sessions short, and no more than 10 minutes a day. Pick a quiet place in your home that is free from distractions such as other pets or children. Grab some treats, and lead your dog to the room.
Get his attention by showing him the treat, and hold the treat just above his nose. Say his name clearly, and then command him to sit. He probably won’t sit as he doesn’t yet know the command, so shift the treat back, over his head and toward the tail. As his eyes follow the treat, he will lift his head up and sit his hindquarters on the ground. When he sits, give him the treat and say “good sit” in a cheerful, gentle tone. Make sure you give him the treat immediately, or he may not associate “sit” with the act of sitting.
Repeat these steps 5 times, and try again tomorrow. Although the sit command is one of the easiest lessons to teach a dog, not every breed catches on at the same speed. Your dog may back up or jump to snag the treat from your hand, for example, or refuse to sit in a room other than where you train. Keep working, stay calm and patient, and be generous with praise when warranted.
Sitting Without Treats
As your dog learns the sit command, your goal is to slowly take away the treat reward since traveling with dog food isn’t always possible. Once your dog sits on command regularly, continue verbal praise, but withhold treats to every other success. Continue reducing the number of treats you give him until he sits on command and is satisfied with verbal praise.
Why Your Dog Needs to Learn the Command
The sit command is useful in a wide variety of situations. It’s exceptionally helpful at the front door when guests arrive, because a sitting dog is not a jumping dog. Sitting dogs also can’t counter-surf for food, climb on unprepared laps, or hop on the couch. For happy owners and happy guests, start teaching your dog the sit command when you bring him home.