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Teach your dog to sit

Teaching your dog to sit still can help to keep them safe when you’re out and about by giving them skills to use when crossing roads, queueing for ice creams! or to use the cashpoint, or when meeting new people. It’s also a great way to practice your training skills.

For next steps, see how to teach your dog to lie down.

  1. It’s important to start training in a quiet and calm place such as your living room – without any distraction, interruption or temptation - and when both you and your dog are happy and relaxed. You’ll both be able to concentrate and be successful. You’ll also need rewards ready for your dog and these should be something they really enjoy. You’ll need lots of rewards to begin with, so small tasty treats might be a good idea.

     

     

  2. You can say “yes” (or use a clicker) at exactly the time when your dog is doing what you want, which tells them that their reward is coming right away. Take care to make sure your timing is spot on – so you always let your dog know the exact moment they’re getting it right - and always follow up saying “yes” with giving your dog their reward. Our downloadable handout has further details about this that you might find helpful.

  3. Luring means using your dog’s reward to guide them into the sit position. This means they get it right from the start and doesn’t involve any pushing or pulling them into the sit – which might hurt and/or make them worried about you!

     

  4. You don’t need to say anything – remember they have no idea what the word sit means at this point! Take a treat and hold it out to your dog’s nose, then slowly and smoothly raise your hand above and over their head. Your dog should move their head back as they follow the treat with their nose and when doing so, as their body hinges, their bottom should touch the floor.

    As soon as your dog’s bottom touches the floor say “yes” and then quickly give them their well-deserved treat.

     

     

  5. Repeat this until your dog is quickly sitting down when you present and then move the treat from their nose to above their head. If they’re struggling just have a break and come back to it – learning is not always as easy for them as we might think! If we take things gently and go at their pace, they’ll be more likely to enjoy learning and remember what they’ve learned. Remember to say “yes” and then give the reward as soon as their bottom touches the floor.

     

  6. Start to say “sit” as you lure them into the sitting position. Carry on saying “yes” as soon as they sit down and following this with their reward. Repeat this stage several times so that your dog has lots of opportunity to connect the word “sit” with the action of moving into a sitting position.

     

  7. Simply say “sit” as you move your hand exactly as you did before but without holding the treat in it! If your dog struggles without the treat in your hand you can use them for a little longer before trying again. Remember to say “yes” when they sit and produce a reward for them as quickly as you can, giving it to them while they’re still sitting.

    Puppy sitting at the feet of their owner  

  8. Your dog might find it harder to practice in busier, more distracting places, so you might need to choose locations carefully to make it easier or use an extra tasty treat to rewards their efforts! You might need to go right back to basics to begin with in a new place, but your dog should soon work through the steps as long as you are calm, clear and consistent!