Training your dog to sit on command is one of the first and most important skills any owner should teach. Besides being a good way to teach dogs to stay still, the “sit” command can be part of training them to heel, come when called, or even ask politely for a treat, toy, or attention. There are a few different ways to teach your dog to sit on command, including the “lure and reward” method, as well as “capturing.”
What You Need to Teach “Sit” on Command
- A clicker (optional)
- Patience and a positive attitude!
Steps for Training “Sit”
- Grab some of your dog’s favorite treats – ones you know that will hold their attention.
- While your dog is standing, hold a treat to their nose.
- Slowly lift the treat over their head towards the rear end. As your dog lifts their head to follow the treat, their bottom should drop to the ground. That’s a sit!
- As soon as your dog is sitting, click or mark with a verbal affirmation like “Yes!” and offer the treat.
- Use a different word like “OK”, or walk away, to reset and release your dog back to a standing position. Practice steps 2 through 5 until your dog has the “sit” position down.
- Now, try using the lure method, but with an empty hand instead of a treat. This movement will become the hand signal your dog knows to mean “sit”. Once they’ve completed a sit, offer a treat from your other hand.
- Once you’ve mastered the hand signal, now it’s time to add a verbal “sit” cue. Begin to say “sit!” each time before performing your hand signal. Eventually, your dog will learn to respond to the verbal cue alone.
- You can also attempt to lure your dog from a “down” position slowly back up into a sit. Using a treat, coax your dog to raise their head, then praise and repeat. Soon, they’ll learn to raise not just the head, but the chest, and ultimately, the entire body until they are in a sitting position.
- Some dogs may sit on their own for various reasons. While training, this behavior should be “captured,” meaning you should praise, reward, and/or click whenever your dog sits to reinforce the behavior. Once they associate a sit with a reward, they will be more inclined to reliably sit on command when asked.
Tips for Training “Sit” on Command
- Be patient and positive. “Sit” is an important skill your dog will use for life, so it’s useful to take the time and energy to teach it properly.
- Never push your dog’s rear end to the floor, as it can be intimidating or confusing for them. If they’re not grasping something, try switching up your methods.
- Turn sitting into a “default behavior” by rewarding your dog whenever they choose to sit on their own. The more you do this, the more likely they will be to sit on their own in the future without needing a command.
Test Your Skills
Besides being an important command for any dog to learn, “sit” is one of the ten required skills for both puppies and adult dogs in order to complete the AKC Virtual Home Manners title. Virtual Home Manners is the answer when you want to train your dog at home, and the program can get you started on practical skills even before you attend any training classes.
For puppies up to 1-year-old, a lure (i.e. a treat) may be used to help teach “sit”, but no lure is allowed for adult dogs.