Teaching your dog to sit is important for a number of reasons. It can help to keep them safe, for example when you’re waiting to cross a busy road, and help them with their manners when they’re meeting people. It’s also a useful starting point for other training exercises.
Here we look at how to teach a dog to sit in six easy steps. We’re also got tips on how to teach your dog to sit and stay.
Before you start teaching your furry friend how to sit, or indeed embark on any other training, it pays to swot up on the basics. We’ve got lots of dog training tips to make life easier. Here’s a reminder of the key points:
Many vets and animal experts recommend reward-based training. Rewards don’t have to be treats and can include praise, games and toys. That said, food is very motivating for a lot of dogs! If you are using treats make sure you go for something that’s high quality that your furry friend really loves. PEDIGREE™ Ranchos Slices and Ranchos Sticks fit the bill perfectly. Ranchos Slices are made with 100% natural beef and Ranchos Sticks 100% natural chicken. Neither contain any added colours or flavours, and they are less than 5% fat.
Once you’ve got a high-value reward you can use that to gently encourage your dog into a sitting position. Here’s how:
Start with your furry friend in a standing position and show them the treat, letting them have a sniff.
Now move the treat in an arc over your dog’s head. As your dog raises their head to follow the treat, their bottom will go to the floor. In other words, they will sit!
As soon as this happens, give your dog the treat and lots of calm praise.
Keep practising this regularly. Once your dog has got the hang of things, repeat the same steps but without a treat in your hand. Then give them a treat when their bottom hits the floor.
When your furry friend is reliably sitting, you can add in a verbal cue, ‘sit’, and a visual cue such as a hand gesture.
Over time your dog will learn to sit as soon as they hear the cue word.
Already taught your dog to sit and now want them to sit and stay? Here’s how:
Start with your dog in a sitting position. Give them a verbal cue of ‘stay’ accompanied by a clear visual signal such as holding your hand up with a flat palm facing away from you. Then take the hand signal away, and quickly reward your dog before they move. The key word here is quickly you need to give your dog their treat before they move.
Keep practising this and eventually try moving away or breaking eye contact. If your furry friend moves before you ask them to, make sure you start again and then give them the treat when they get things right.
When you’re confident you can move around freely and your dog will remain in a stay, it’s time to see if you can disappear out of sight and then come back to reward them. You could also begin to add in distractions. Build things up gradually and go back a step if things start to slip.
Once your dog has mastered sit, you can also teach them to lie down. This is very useful when you need them to settle on the floor whether that’s at home or when you’re out and about. Check out How to teach a dog to lie down.
You can start training your puppy to sit as soon as you bring them home. However, bear in mind that puppies have notoriously short attention spans! This means that, while it is always a good idea to keep training sessions short and sweet, this is particularly important when you have a puppy.
If you adopt an older dog from a shelter, it’s likely they’ll already know how to sit. However, a new home can make a dog temporarily ‘forget’ some of their training. If this is the case, just follow the steps above. It’s also worth checking out Can you teach an old dog new tricks.
Every dog is different so it’s impossible to say exactly how long yours will take to learn to sit. However, with patient and consistent training, most dogs get the hang of learning to sit reasonably quickly, with many picking it up within 1 - 2 weeks.
Looking for more training advice? Check out How to clicker train a dog and How to toilet train a puppy or dog.
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