Dog training: teach dog to sit
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Caitlin UltimoTraining / Training Tips

Basic Dog Training Commands: Sit

Basic Dog Training Commands—Step 1: Sit

This article is a part of a four step series that covers basic obedience training for dogs. Make sure to check out step 2: stay, step 3: come and step 4: off.

An essential part of raising a solid canine citizen is basic dog training. Working with your pup on obedience training not only helps them to develop good manners, but it is also an important part of building trust between you and your canine family member and strengthening your bond. Head trainer and behavior consultant for Canine Country Academy in Lawrenceville, Georgia, Paula Nowak, CPDT-KA and CTDI, is here to offer tips on how to train your dog to sit.

Nowak recommends using a clicker, like the Starmark Pro-Training Clicker Dog Training Aid, to mark correct behavior, and also always having dog treats on hand to reward them for responding correctly to the command. Treat bags like the Chuckit! Treat Tote will securely and conveniently store treats during your basic dog training sessions.

How to Train Your Dog to Sit

Option 1:

  1. Without prompting your puppy, wait for him to sit.
  2. Once he has taken seat, reward him by saying, “Yes” or using the clicker to mark the behavior.
  3. After the reward command, give your pup a treat.

Option 2:

  1. Take a piece of treat into your hand and move it in front of the puppy’s mouth and nose area so that you get their attention.
  2. Once they are focused, slowly move the treat up and behind their head. This should cause your puppy to move backwards and eventually into a sit.
  3. As soon as your puppy’s bottom touches the floor, say “Yes,” or use the clicker to mark that it is correct behavior.
  4. After the reward command, give your pup a treat.

Teaching your new puppy to sit on command should be the first part of basic dog training. Sit is like an ambassador command that lays the groundwork for your pup’s continued obedience training. It is also a great starter command that can help to refocus your pup if you think their attention is starting to drift.

Nowak offers two primary ways on how to train your dog to sit. The first option, she says, “is to wait for them to offer to sit without you saying anything. By allowing them to offer the behavior, it creates a stronger pattern in their brain since it was their idea.” Once your puppy has taken a seat, say “Yes,” or, Nowak says, “Use a clicker to mark that their behavior is about to be rewarded,” and then give your puppy a small piece of a treat, like the True Chews Premium Jerky Cuts with Real Chicken Dog Treats.

The second option, Nowak discusses, is for the puppy that may need a little more motivation to sit. She says to have a piece of treat in your hand, and “Bring it to your puppy’s mouth for them to sniff and nibble.” Once they are focused, Nowak says to slowly move the treat from nose level up and back in an arch shape towards their hind end. Once their bottom touches the floor, say “Yes,” or use your clicker to let them know that this was the correct behavior, and then allow them to have the treat. You should do about 10-15 repetitions of this in a calm and comfortable area where they can learn. Nowak suggests counting out your dog training treats beforehand so you can keep track of how many repetitions you have done.

You may have noticed that the word “Sit” is not being used in either option. That is because Nowak recommends waiting until your puppy is about 80% reliable in sitting before you begin to pair the verbal cue with the action. Once you feel they have almost completely mastered the behavior, you will begin to incorporate the verbal command.

For those using the first option, you will say the word “Sit” just before they offer to sit, and then say “Yes,” or use your clicker to mark that they have shown the correct response. For the second option, you will say “Sit” just before you lure your pup into a sit and then mark with either a “Yes,” or the clicker, and then release the treat to them. Nowak says, “Puppies learn through pairing, so we will need to repeat this many times before they really understand that the word ‘Sit’ equals the known position.”

Quick tip: Depending on your puppy’s attention span and interest in training, Nowak says that these training sessions can be either once a day or broken up throughout the day into multiple sessions.

Choosing the Right Treat

While using treats to begin training your new puppy is a great way to start basic dog training, it is important that you find the right treats. For many dogs, not all treats are created equal, and there is going to be one out there that will always catch your dog’s attention no matter the distraction. Finding your pup’s million-dollar treat is the key to keeping their attention while embarking on your quest to master basic dog training.

Keeping training treats small and easy to eat is key, because if your dog has to go off and chew the treat, then you have lost their attention and will have to start over again. Bigger treats also have more calories and limit your training time because your dog will get too full to feel motivated by food. Another perk of using smaller pieces of dog training treats is that when you give your fur friend-in-training a few pieces at a time, they think they have won the jackpot and are even more motivated to continue learning and paying attention to you. True Chews treats make the perfect training treat because they can be easily ripped apart into smaller bites, which make for a larger jackpot for your furry friend.

Once you and your pup have mastered the sit command, you’re ready for the next basic dog training command: stay.

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