How to Train Your Dog to Sit Down

List: Posted: 09/01/11

Why Train?

A good place to start dog training is with one of the most useful commands – "Sit!" This is the best command because it helps your dog understand how to be trained. After teaching him how to sit, it is much easier to teach him other complicated tricks.

 

Also, if your dog gets rowdy sometimes by chewing on things, or begging for food, telling your dog to sit is a good way of stopping negative behaviors.

Getting Started

 

First, put your dog on a leash and take him somewhere that has no distractions. Your backyard or an empty park is a good place.  Make sure you bring a lot of treats with you.  When feeding your dog treats, make sure he is not full already, or he will be less interested in the food. 

 

All kinds of treats work well, but it’s good to get some that are meant for dogs at the pet store. The little bacon bites work well for me.  Even a cooked hot dog is good. 

 

One thing to keep in mind that with any animal, your dog prefers quality over quantity. You do not need to over indulge your dog by giving him a whole treat every time.  Just pinch of a tiny amount and give that to your dog when he does a good job.  I usually break off pieces smaller than the size of my pinky.  He responds well every time and does not get full even after a hundred or more pieces.

After you give your dog the first treat, he will want more – now you have his attention.  Next, say ‘Sit’ firmly and hold the treat above his nose.  Most of the time he will automatically start going for the treat, but make sure not to give it to him.  Next, push down on his bottom until he sits.  Then give him the treat. 

Repeat!

Repeat this step as many times as possible. Say ‘Sit’, hold out the food above his nose, and press on his back until he sits.  Do it again and again.  Soon, you will not need to push on his back. Your dog will respond to just the word ‘Sit’.

When he has mastered this, repeat some more. Say ‘Sit’ and do not give him a treat until he does the action.  Sometimes he will just stand there unresponsive.  If he does this, then push his back again until he responds to your voice.

Make it a Habit

Repeat, repeat, repeat.  Training dogs comes from habituation. You need to make it a habit for your dog to respond consistently.

A Step Further

Now that your dog obeys every time, you can let him off his leash. It’s best to do this in your backyard without any distractions.  Most likely he will stay close to you because he wants more treats.  If he runs off, get him on a leash and repeat the commands until you can take him off the leash without running.

Repeat the commands and continue giving him treats.  Sometimes at this point you do not need to give him any more treats, but instead just say ‘Good Dog’ and pet him generously.  Do this over and over again until he obeys every time.

Distract Your Dog

Now, you can add a distraction.  Get a friend to stand on the other side of the yard.  Have your friend play with a ball or make a distracting noise.  If your dog runs over to your friend or does not listen to you anymore, put him back on a leash and repeat the steps with the distraction.  If your dog stays near you, then you can continue training without a leash.  Repeat the command multiple times.

Next, have your friend call the dog over. When your dog reaches your friend, call him back and hold out a treat. Your dog should come back to you, and tell him to ‘Sit’. If everything works well, your dog should listen to you.  Do this a few times.

 

Repeat, Repeat, Repeat

 

Gradually, you can add more distractions. Have your friend talk really loudly or sing, or get another friend to come in.  This way, you can train your dog to listen to you even in loud environments.

Do these steps every day for about a week, and your dog should develop the habit of listening to you. Eventually you can stop using treats and just give him praise. 

Reinforce the Habit

Once your dog obeys you after a week, always try to have him ‘Sit’ a couple times a day. This will reinforce his habits and soon you will have an obedient pet!  Even have your friend command him so your dog can get used to other people’s voices giving the command.

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