A dog sitting down calmly at the side of a busy road, or on public transport, or in a cafe is always a lovely sight to see, but how can you get your dog to sit when you want him to?
Before we think about teaching a dog to sit let’s take a few minutes to think about why we might want to do it. At the side of a busy road, when horses or other animals are approaching, when new people enter a room. There are lots of times when it would be useful to have a stationary dog.
A dog sitting still in a sensible place is not going to get trodden on or tripped over or lost. A dog sitting next to us on a park bench, under a table at the pub, on the floor by our side on public transport, is not only safe, but it is out of the way of other people. A sitting dog is easier to groom, put a lead on, is easier to control.
There are countless reasons why a dog being able to sit down on command would be a good thing, but how do you teach a dog to sit?
Dogs are intelligent creatures and they like pleasing you, especially if there is some kind of treat involved at the end of it, so you shouldn’t have too much trouble getting your dog to learn this simple command as long as you keep a few key things in mind.
- Make it fun
Short, fun sessions over a number of days will be far more enjoyable for you and your dog than long stressful ones, the sooner you can start them the better. Make sure you have plenty of praise and some treats for your dog.
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- Make it clear when the session is over
Lots of praise and fuss will show your pet that you’re pleased with how hard they’ve worked and the progress you’ve made. Your pet wants to please you, so showing that they’re doing a good job will give them the confidence to keep at it.
- With your dog standing up, hold a treat close to his nose, let him sniff the treat, so that he knows it’s something good.
- Move your hand in a slow arc over his head, making sure that your dog follows it. As his head follows the treat your dog will automatically sit down as his bottom touches the floor.
- As soon as your dog is in the sitting position, give him the treat and plenty of praise.
- Repeat this action a few time before you end the session.
Your dog will soon learn that sitting = treat, so he’ll start to sit for longer. This is when the next stage of training can begin.
- As your dog moves to sit, start saying “sit”, you need to be very careful to ensure that you’re actually saying this as your dog is entering the sitting position, otherwise he’ll associate your command with the wrong move and “sit” will mean something entirely different to him.
- Give a treat and plenty of praise.
- Get your dog into the standing position again, as he begins to sit, say “sit”, when he’s in the sitting position, give him a treat.
- Again, keep the session short, so that your dog remains engaged and make a big fuss on him when the session is over.
It should only take a few days of short practice sessions to get your dog sitting on command in return for a treat.
If at any stage during your training sessions your dog seems disinterested, distressed or more interested in doing something else then leave the session and come back to it another time. If the dog isn’t interested and you get stressed, angry and upset because he’s not doing what you want him to do you will only pass that stress on to him and make the whole process more difficult. Come back at another time, when you know that you and your dog are both ready to work and learn and you will both enjoy much more success.
Once your dog knows how to sit, he will be much easier to manage in a range of situations. Remember to always keep your commands clear and calm so that your dog knows that there’s nothing to worry about and that you just need him to sit down because that’s the best thing for him to do at a given time.