Getting a dog to sit is easier than you think. If you apply a little doggy thinking then you can get any dog to sit.
You’ll be able to get your dog to sit down quickly, easily and without having to use any type of force.
In fact the way we are going to do this will make it a pleasurable experience for the dog, one that takes advantage of one of his favourite times of the day – meal time.
The importance of training a dog to sit
The ‘sit’ command is the easiest of all dog commands to teach and, in many areas of dog training, it is the basis on which all other commands are based – as an example, if we want to progress to making our dog ‘stay’ then it is a good thing if we can get him to sit first.
The earlier the better for dog training
The sooner that we are able to start training with a dog the better. It is true that if we can begin early with a puppy then we stand a better chance of easier progress with less chance of problems than if we start with an older dog that has had no exposure to training.
In this respect dogs are no different to human beings.
The easiest command in dog training is ‘sit’
It is also one of the most important – and this is how we do it.
We use a highlight of your dog’s day – feeding time. Taking his dish, with food in it, we hold it up in one hand and tell him to sit.
With our free hand we hold our hand flat, palm out, facing the dog – like a ‘Stop’ signal.
Now, the chances are that your dog will have never heard this word before and he will jump around and display his frustrations at not getting his tea.
The younger he is then the more agitated he is likely to be.
Don’t give in to his frustrations, because in a short while, he will get fed up and will sit down to think about things.
As soon as his bottom touches the floor, repeat the word ‘sit’ and put the food down in front of him to eat.
Repeat this everytime you feed him from now on. I guarantee that within a few days he will sit down when you tell him.
How long does it take to train a dog to sit?
It will normally take 1 to 2 weeks of regular, short training exercises to get your dog sitting down reliably when told.
The key thing about all areas of dog training is that you do the exercise frequently but not for so long that your dog gets bored and disinterested.
Initially just keep the exercise to his mealtimes as mentioned above and don’t be tempted to try to ‘show off’ the dog to friends and family.
Be consistent and he will quickly get the idea and, for many dogs, he will understand the command very quickly.
How to teach an older dog to sit
Maybe you have an older dog that you are looking to do some training with.
Perhaps you’ve got him from a shelter or another home and you’d like him to be a good companion or you’re looking at some more advanced training.
We don’t need to change our method of teaching the dog to sit down and the method outlined above will work for the older dog.
You may have to be more patient, as it is likely that the dog will be a little ‘set in his ways’, and it may take longer than with a younger dog or puppy.
But the method is the same. Introduce the command at his mealtimes and, as soon as he plonks his bottom of the floor, put the food down for him and repeat the command ‘Sit’.
How to teach a stubborn dog to sit
You are more likely to experience difficulties with older dogs, and often with dogs that have been re-homed and have picked up bad habits.
The mealtime technique should work with the majority of dogs. If you are prepared to wait while your dog ponders, then you’ll find that if he is really hungry, that he will sit down.
Of course, there is always the exception to the rule and if you’re reading this then you may have the exception.
Most dogs are driven by food and using food as a reward works for the majority.
What does your dog love doing more than anything else?
If your dog won’t respond to food then you need to find something that he really enjoys and treasures.
This could be chasing a ball, or playing with a teddy or toy. Take some time to get to know your dog so that you can find out what he loves to do.
Then, if he likes chasing a ball, you take him out into the garden or somewhere with no distractions.
Let him see the ball, he will probably become excited and bounce around, frustrated at not getting his ball.
Tell him to sit. The instant his bottom touches the floor let him have his ball/toy/teddy etc to play with for a few minutes.
Then take it off him and keep this toy for training only. It only comes out when you train, as a reward.
This technique often works well with active, playful dogs such as spaniels and labradors and mirrors the reward based training that is used with customs detection dogs and those used in similar environments.
Should I push my dog’s bottom down to make him sit?
There is no need to touch your dog at all when teaching the sit command, in fact, during most dog training exercises you do not need to make any physical contact.
Some people do say that you should push the dog’s bottom down but, in my experience this is completely unnecessary as most dogs will put their bottoms on the floor when presented with an edible reward such as their meals.
Physical force is unnecessary when training a dog. If you do use force you run the risk of hurting your dog, frightening him and breaking his trust.
If you have a rescue dog or similar then any form of contact when training could be disastrous.
Using treats for training a dog to sit
As well as using mealtimes as a reward for sitting down, it is a good idea to have some nice treats in your pocket to reward your dog with.
When you go out with him you can show him the treat and tell him to ‘sit’. Again as soon as he does give him his treat.
With time, you will be able to do away with the treats altogether and reward him with lots of praise and fussing.
There are literally hundreds of different dog treats that you can use for training and you can get a great selection here on Amazon that dogs love.
Treats that dogs love
5 easy steps to get your dog to sit
Give a command, such as “sit”
Praise the dog and give it a treat when it obeys
Repeat this process until the dog understands what you want them to do
Use treats or toys to help motivate your pet
Be patient – training can take time
Getting your dog to sit is one of the most basic instructions that you should teach and is something that you should begin as soon as your puppy has settled in at your home.
It forms the basis of so many other dog training areas and it will also help you to encourage your dog to be calm and patient when you need him to be.
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Last update on 2023-06-05 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API