menu icon

Sit - Teaching Dog Commands

One of the basic commands you should have your dog learn is 'sit'. It is a great way to start any kind of obedience training, it will stop them from jumping up at visitors or yourself, and is an easy one to start with that can be built upon. Being able to obey their pack leader is good for the dog, it makes them feel more confident. You can train them with a combination of rewards and praise, starting easy in a familiar place close to you, and then working your way up to being able to do it in any situation. Here are some steps to take when teaching your dog 'sit'.

Remember all training requires patience, commitment and consistency. These 4 steps to help you teach the command sit involve using praise and rewards. For younger dogs it is a good idea to start off with shorter training sessions, but have several throughout out the day.


1) Training your dog to sit using a verbal cue

Take your dog to a familiar place but with no distraction in the house. Say the command 'sit' once, then guide your dog into the seated position holding a treat like you would hold a pencil right in front of his nose. The treat should be an inch away from the nose, any further and it is too far and it may be harder to get him into position. You can tell if your hand is too far away if he is trying to jump to reach it. If your dog tries to back away from you put him so that a wall is behind him and you are in front so he has nowhere to go.

To guide him into the sit position move the treat over her head so that she has to raise her nose pointed straight up to follow it's movement. When the dog's nose is up it is natural for their rear to move lower to the floor. As soon as her rump is on the floor say 'Yes' or 'Good', praise her and give her the treat. Then tell her to get up and repeat the action the idea being she will eventually connect the fact that she gets the treat when she is sitting.

2) Transitioning the treat out of the guiding hand

When your dog has grasped that first stage it is time to transition on. Now you need to put the treat in your other hand or in your pocket. Repeat the same thing in Step One and as you bring up your empty hand over the nose to raise into the straight up position say the command 'Sit'. The dog should follow the empty hand and still end up in a seated position. You can still hold your hand as if there was a treat in it and move it the same way as you did in Step One. When your dog sits give her the same affirmation as above and then with your other hand give the treat.

3) Lessening the need for the Hand Movement

Eventually you will reach the stage where it is time to lessen the movement you make with your guiding hand. This should happen in gradual stages. Start by telling your dog 'sit' then hold your guiding hand between 8 to 10 inches away from their face and wait. Many dogs will sit at this point. If your dog does not sit, move your hand over the head like before but make it a small move this time. Then repeat the command.


Now once your dog sits regularly at this point change it so your hand is now open with the palm up. Repeat until she sits repeatedly in this manner. We are moving away from you needing to have a hand movement at all. So now move on to having your palm out but not moving your arm so much out from your body until no hand movement is needed.

When rewarding at this stage a good approach to take is to have treats on a nearby surface like a table where she cannot see them. When she sits and you say 'yes' or 'good'. You can then go get a treat and give it to her. This is making her wait for the treat for just a few seconds and she is learning that she gets the reward when you say 'yes' and they can come from anywhere even if she cannot see them. Now she is less likely to need to see a treat before she will follow a command. It can happen in some dogs that they become reliant on seeing the reward before they obey.

4) Greeting with the command Sit

When you are the point where your dog reliably sits on command you can extend that to making her sit whenever you meet and greet people. This requires you to anticipate at first so that you can give the command before she is overexcited and starts jumping up. Give her the cue to sit straight away and give a generous reward when she obeys. For every 5 seconds she holds that sit give her another generous reward. Think hot dogs sliced into small pieces, ham cubes, cheese, chicken for example. You can ask the person visiting or talking to help by getting up or turning away to go whenever your dog gets up from sit, or when she lunges or jumps to them. With consistency and repetition she will learn that jumping or lunging will mean the people leave, but sitting gets her attention, praise, rewards and the company stays.

Additional Information

There are other articles on this site that cover training and commands that may be of use to you.

For professional help see a CPDT (Certified Professional Dog Trainer).

When he has the command learned practice clipping on the leash and then extending the range at which you can give the command and have it obeyed.

Use praise, rewards and treats to encourage him.

End sessions on a success.

More to Explore