How to Teach a Dog to Sit

A common behaviour that is important for your dog is the sit command. It helps to teach a dog to sit when you want them to stay calm and not jump on you or your guests, to stay at a spot and not run around, etc. This command can be used as a default behaviour when you need your dog to keep its nose out of certain places. But many parents struggle with this command. Dogs often stand back up within a second after keeping their behind on the ground. You must teach your dog to sit and practice it regularly.

Why Teach the Sit Command?

Sit is a default behaviour that your dog needs to learn to move on to bigger tricks and rewards. For example, your dog needs to “sit” before he gets his food, he needs to “sit” while you’re putting his leash on, etc. 

Teaching the default “sit” gives you control while reinforcing your puppy’s social status in the family. They learn from the very beginning that as a part of the family, they have to get along with humans and because you control the resources they must be polite to you.

Step Wise Technique Through Lure Training to Teach a Dog to Sit

The most popular technique to teach a dog to sit is with lure training and reward using a handful of tasty treats. Using a high-value reward like your dog’s favourite treat is very important. Clicker training can also help mark the exact moment your dog sits. To ensure success, teach your dog to sit in a relaxed mood and an environment without distractions. Follow these steps:

  1. Stand in front of your dog. Be sure to use a calm, but firm voice.
  2. Hold the treat/lure in front of their nose. 
  3. Slowly, lift the treat above their head towards their rear. As your dog lifts their head to follow the treat, its rear should start dropping to the ground.  
  4. As soon as their rear touches the ground, give them a treat or the reward you’re using (can be a toy). 
  5. To get your dog to stand again, take a few steps away from the dog and call them, when they come to you, give a treat.
  6. Set up a routine and practice the command several times each day. 
  7. Once your dog has perfected the sit position, you need to do away with the treat. First, use an empty hand to lure your dog to sit and once they sit, offer a treat from the other hand. The movement you use – of your empty hand – will become your hand signal. This can be a closed fist or something else – but be consistent with it. Each time you do this without the treat, the dog will associate the hand signal with the command. 
  8. Once your dog reliably sits for the empty hand, you can add the verbal cue: Sit. With practice, your dog will learn to follow the verbal cue to sit.

Extra Tips to Teach a Dog to Sit

  1. Don’t physically put your puppy into the sit position. This is confusing or upsetting for some dogs.
  2. If you’re using a treat or food item as a lure, make sure to practice before mealtime so that the treat is enticing for your dog.
  3. Use a high-value treat or toy as a lure – something that the dog values and enjoys. Make sure to use this ONLY during training, or else the lure loses its value and relevance.  

What Is the Correct Sit Position?

Teach a Dog to Sit

  1. The dog’s front and hind legs are in line with each other
  2. All 4 feet are pointing front and not to the sides
  3. The dog should not be slouching
  4. Puppies sit differently compared to their adult counterparts. Their hind legs go to the side. This may be called a puppy sit or lazy sit.