To teach the sit: Why teach your dog to sit?

teach a sit

Why teach your dog to sit?

In our opinion basic obedience is a must for all dogs. It builds confidence in your dog and opens a dialogue relationship between you and your dog. A dog that is taught to sit and ask for everything helps rule out many behaviors we humans perceive as undesirable. eg. jumping for attention, barking for things, jumping on guest, counter surfing just to name a few.
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To teach the sit: Always start in a quiet place an with one dog at a time.

  1. Obtain a variety of small treats. …
  2. Capture your dog’s attention. …
  3. Show the dog a treat. …
  4. Get on your puppy’s level, either on the floor or in a chair next to him. (*Great for smaller dogs, you can stand if you have a larger dog)
  5. Hold a treat close to his nose and let his head follow the treat as you move your hand up over his head. (not too high or he might jump) ( *I also use a flat upward palm and this will become your hand signal once we fade the food out)
  6. As his head moves up, his butt will lower.
  7. When his butt hits the floor, mark/click and release the treat to his mouth. …
  8. Repeat multiple times every day.

Real Life Training Tips:

  1. If your dog does not sit on her own after a few tries, avoid any touching or pushing her into a sitting position. Dogs do not learn that well in our experience using physical prompts and it is very hard to fade out any type of physical prompt. Ever see dogs that won’t sit unless handler touches the behind? Most likely a sit was taught by a physical prompt in these situations. Have patience or try a hierarchy of reinforcer’s eg. food. Also, avoid any yelling or punishment.
  2. If you are still having trouble with your dog not following the lure or her behind pops up we can use our marker (word or clicker). We always suggest using an event marker when teaching any animal. If her behind pops up start over. If you are having trouble or dog is not sure how to get the reinforcer start marking in small approximations (shaping/free shaping).
  3. When teaching new behaviors always keep session short, 3 to 10 minutes one to three times a day. Always keep it fun for you and the dog. Keep the dog in the game.
  4. Once your dog is following the lure into a sit position 3 to 5 times we can raise the criteria by saying the word sit as we lure into position. We can try after a few successful trials to just say sit without the lure and see if dog understands the cue “SIT”. If they dog does not get this after one or to trials we always take a step back and start luring again. 
  5. We also start fading the food out as fast as possible. We lure the dog without food and reinforce from our other hand. This rules out “My dog only does it when I food in my hand”. We all heard this one before! *This open upward palm will be your hand signal for sit.
  6. Keep doing this be consistent and your dog will get this. The event marker will excel any animals learning. 
  7. Always remember dogs do not generalize good and this is why we teach each learned cue in all environmental context. The 3 D’s Distance, Duration and Distractions,.
  8. Practice, patience and consistency is the key along with good skills. For me it’s like a dance and we get better with time. 

3 Skills of a Good Trainer:

  • The ability to recognize a reinforcement response (criteria setting)
  • The ability to obtain that reinforce-able response (prompting,luring,shaping,capturing )
  • The ability to immediately reinforce it once it’s obtained (timing)


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