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How to Teach a Dog to Sit – The Easy Way

December 29, 2011

Teaching a dog to sit when you ask should be one of the simplest training exercises. It can sometimes be a challenge. Follow these great tips to get your dog sitting exactly how you would like.

Ask yourself, what it is you are teaching? The aim is to teach your dog to sit when you ask him. ‘Sit’ means ‘put your back end on the floor and something really good may happen’. Watch your dog when he sits of his own accord. As well as his back end touching the floor, his head moves upwards and backwards.

Begin in a relatively quiet environment, free of distractions and have a pot of tasty treats out of your dog’s reach. Make sure you have one in your hand. Show your dog a piece of really interesting food thus to ensure that you have his attention. Use this as a lure to show your dog what you want. Put the treat close to your dog’s nose and move it just above. Slowly, move the treat backwards, toward the top of your dog’s head. If you move the treat too high, your dog will jump up. If you move it too low he cannot move and if you move it too fast he will walk backwards. Be patient. If he does the wrong thing, just try again. Keep his interest but do not give him the treat until he does the right thing.

Do not push his back end down. Not only does this cause discomfort for some dogs, he will at best simply learn to let you do this, which teaches him nothing, and at worst, he will learn to resist you and push upwards. Immediately your dog does as you want, reward with food and fuss and praise.

At this stage, do not give your dog any words of command. If you repeat ‘sit’ when your dog is confused, he will not understand. Repeat this several times, until your dog is doing the action reliably then begin to say your word as the dog is doing the action. What word will you use? If you decide upon the word ‘sit’ no one should tell your dog to ‘sit down’ as this then becomes confusing.

Show the dog the treat and say your word. Lure him if necessary and reward him at the moment your dog is responding to a hand signal and word. You can leave it like this but, if you want to teach him to respond to the word alone, reduce the hand signal gradually until he no longer needs it to complete the exercise. Progress until you can say the word and the dog will repeat the action without needing to follow your hand. This is when he is beginning to listen to your word and to understand what it is that you want him to do.

Next, start to vary the rewards and use a different or less interesting reward sometimes. Gradually vary and decrease the rewards given so rewards should now come on a random basis. Repeat this sequence in different places, with an increasing number of distractions. Practice in different parts of the house, in the garden, on walks, on different surfaces, when you are sitting or standing up, in the company of other people and even in the company of other dogs.

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From → Pet Sitting

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