Teaching the 'sit' cue is the first cue many dog owners want to teach their new dog or puppy. This cue can be used when you need your puppy or dog to focus her attention at certain times; for example, at the curb before crossing the road, in front of a food bowl before eating, at the front door when someone is coming in, and before the leash is attached.
You can teach your dog to sit quickly and painlessly by following these easy, force-free steps.
- Hold a treat by your dog’s nose and wait for him to figure out how he is going to get it out of your hand. Some dogs will lick or paw at it, but do not give it to him until he puts his behind on the floor.
- Repeat this until your dog is sitting reliably then add the word 'sit' as he is in the process of sitting so that he begins to associate the word with the action.
- When he is sitting repeatedly, start saying the word 'sit' as you present the treat to him.
- Please note that if your dog is snaps at the food in your hand, you should be very careful and substitute a toy for the food. Using toys to teach this instead of food is also effective if your dog is more toy-motivated.
- As with any cue, teach this in short increments so that your dog does not get bored, and be aware of your pup or dog’s physical comfort.
- Sitting too much can be uncomfortable, especially for larger dogs.
What NOT to do:
- Never force your dog or puppy into a sitting position.
- Do not use the leash to pull or yank the dog into a sit or physically push the dog’s bottom to the ground.
These techniques are ineffective—not to mention confusing and frightening for your dog.
Problem: My dog will not sit, even when I follow these instructions.
Solution: First of all, be patient! There might be too many distractions for your dog to focus on or your dog might not feel comfortable sitting in that particular environment. The surface might be too slippery, cold or hot or the action of sitting might be hurting him.
Problem: My dog sits, but then stands right up again.
Solution: Only reward the dog when he has his behind on the ground. If he stands before you reward him, remove the reward behind your back with an ‘uh oh’ vocal cue. Wait for a few seconds and repeat until the dog waits for his reward before he stands. You can also teach him a ‘release’ cue such as ‘ok’ to indicate when he can stand from the sit position.
Why Does My Dog Need to Know This?
As with all cues, sit is a valuable safety cue. You can use it at times or in situations when you need your dog to be seated and still. It helps improve and redirect a dog’s focus onto you, as well as building a language of communication between you.
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