Petiquette With Jim Burwell: Training Your Dog To Sit
By Jim Burwell
You can train your dog to sit relatively easily. The sit command is one of the best commands to master with your dog as it can be used to solve a lot of minor behavior issues with your dog. If your dog is trained to give you a sit, when he is sitting he is then unable to do inappropriate behaviors such as jumping.
Training your dog to sit is also the easiest command to teach as you progress on your path to a well trained dog. Always remember, that training should be fun, relaxed and rewarding for both you and your dog.
Here’s what you need to do to train your dog to sit:
<li>You will need your dog to be on a collar and a leash</li>
<li>You will need some high value soft food treats such as cut up hot dogs or bits of cheese.</li>
<li>You might want to take your dog for a walk prior to training so he has had time to release any pent up energy and will be in a better state of mind to listen to you.</li>
<li>Choose an area to train your dog that does not have a lot of distractions. Your den or living room is good to begin with. You would not want to try to train your dog to sit in the middle of the dog park.</li>
<li>Have your dog in a standing position by your side, left or right side of you is not important. Whatever side you walk your dog on is the side you should use to train.</li>
<li>Have the collar turned so that the leash is coming up from the top of the dog’s neck.</li>
<li>Have the high value food treat in the hand not holding the leash.</li>
<li>Say your dog’s name and take your hand with the food treat in it, let him see it and he will smell it if you’ve used a really good treat.</li>
<li>Take the treat in your hand and hold your hand over your dog’s head so that his nose goes up as he watches the treat go back towards the middle/back of his head.</li>
<li>Watch as his butt will hit the ground as his head goes up.</li>
<li>The exact second his butt hits the ground, praise him with “good boy!” This is called marking the behavior, You have told him that the behavior he gave you is what you’re looking for. It is critical that your “good boy” is said the minute he completes the sit and the butt hits the ground. You only have 1.0 seconds to 1.5 seconds for the dog to understand the praise with the action he has performed.</li>
<li>NOW you may reward him with the treat.</li>
If your dog backs up with the treat over his head instead of sitting, simply say “wrong”, reposition yourself and the dog and begin again.
Patience is the key as is repetition. Keep your training sessions brief, maximum 10 minutes. If your dog continue to display lack of interest, call it a day and start again later that day or the next day.
Here’s an important point for you. As you are practicing this, and giving your dog the yummy reward, extend the time between saying “good boy” and giving the treat. For example, at first, pretty quickly after you say “good boy” you will give the treat. As the sit becomes more dependable, don’t give the treat so quickly. Then start giving the treat only every other time, then every third time until the simple statement “good boy” is all you need to do. You do not want to be held hostage by food treats as you train your dog.
Be as comfortable with the trainer of your dog as you are the teacher of your children. And remember, “Opportunity Barks!”
Need more help with your dog’s behavior. Visit our behavior page and sign up for current solutions that work, based on my 25 years of positive dog training.