How to teach your dog to sit

Teaching your dog how to sit is probably the first step any pet parent takes in training their dog. It’s important because it forms the foundations for further commands. 

Starting to train your dog can be daunting, but there’s no need to rush. Just go through everything thoroughly, so you and your dog can communicate effectively. 

Begin in a safe space, like your home or in an isolated outside area, so your pet doesn’t get distracted. Then build up to areas with more distractions, like other dogs and traffic, to get them used to listening to you in a busy environment. 

The trick with any type of training is having lots of treats to hand. This really helps motivate your dog and makes things easier for you.

First, place a treat in your hand so they know they’re going to be rewarded. Let your pup sniff your hand to ensure they know it’s in there. Then slightly raise it above their nose and bring it to the back of their head. When they are following your hand with their eyes, it should automatically lead them into the sitting down position. Once they sit down, reward them with their treat and give them lots of praise. 

Keep repeating the first step until they get the hang of it. Consistency is key with any type of training.

Once you are satisfied with the first step, it’s time to slowly phase out the treats. Repeat the same first step, except without a treat in your hand and see if they sit. Once they complete the command, hand them a treat with your other hand. This is so they don’t always associate sitting with a treat in the hand that they follow. This can take a bit of time and practice, but they will get the hang of it. 

It’s now time to eliminate the treat all together. They should understand by now that the hand gesture means they need to sit down, so this part shouldn’t be too tricky. When raising your hand for them to sit down, say “sit” as you do it. Keep repeating this so they associate the word with the action.

At every step, make sure you’re giving them lots of praise, so they know they are doing a good job (especially when it’s time to get rid of the treats). 

Once your dog is a pro at sitting without treats, you can remove the hand gestures too. The word alone will be enough to pop them on their butts, like a wizard casting a spell.

Each time you go over this step, leave an increasing amount of time between them sitting and you giving them lots of praise. If you need to sporadically reintroduce the treats, that’s ok. Go at a pace that works for you and your pooch.