How to teach your dog to sit

Learning how to teach a dog to sit is one of the essential processes all owners must endure to instil a facet of obedience in their pup’s mind during their early days.

Luckily, it is one of the easiest concepts for a dog to understand - and by using reward-based classical conditioning, your actions will not only teach them social etiquette, but also open them up to further training opportunities in the future.

How easy is it to teach a dog to sit?

The earlier a dog learns a new command, the less that same instruction will need to be reinforced later in life, so try to tackle the issue while they are still in their infancy.

It is also worth bearing in mind that depending on your dog’s age, teaching them to sit will not be a one-off class, and so multiple instances of training are likely to be needed before the behaviour becomes second nature.

 

  1. Choose a morning or afternoon where you can spare 5-10 minutes for your dog to train. If you are in a rush and find yourself clock-watching, your dog can easily pick up on your anxiety and this can disrupt the training process.
  2. Choose an environment free from distractions and unusual noises – puppies are not known for their attention span and can easily lose interest if there is something more exciting happening nearby.
  3. Grab a training treat and, while your dog is standing, hold it just in-front of their nose so that they are aware of its presence, but make sure they don’t grab it!
  4. Raise the treat slowly over their head in an arc. Their desire to keep track of the treat will cause them to plant their behind on the ground.
  5. Once they are seated, reward them with the treat as well as some congratulatory attention so that they associate sitting down with praise.
  6. After several attempts, start introducing the phrase “sit!” while they are in the process of sitting so that they associate the phrase with the action and reward.
  7. Once they start to grasp the concept, try removing the hand arc-motion, using only the phrase “sit!”, but continue to reward them with treats.
  8. Remember that the more they are rewarded, the more likely they are to remember the behaviour. As they get older however, the behaviour will be so ingrained in their psyche, that a treat will not always be necessary.

 

A few important reminders…

  • Discovering how to teach a dog to sit may seem straightforward to us, but for a juvenile pup, it can sometimes feel a little overwhelming. So, if your dog seems to lose interest after 5-10 minutes, don’t despair, just try again a few hours later.
  • For many dogs, especially larger breeds, sitting down for long periods of time can be uncomfortable andexhausting so monitor their behaviour and give them a break if necessary.
  • NEVER force your dog’s behind down into the ground, not only will it teach them to negatively associate your request with the act of sitting down, but it can also cause them to sprain a muscle if they are not expecting it.
  • Bear in mind that some dogs respond better to toys than treats, so use your own observations to learn which approach is best for your dog.

 

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