The Method: Sit

The most important aspect of teaching the “sit” command is that the dog knows his/her name. Once the dog recognizes that you are addressing him/her, your goal is to have the dog place his/her bottom on the floor and look up at you whenever you give the “sit” command.

Make sure you are in a quiet room and that you and your dog are calm and focused. Address your dog by his/her name and indicate that you have a treat in your hand.

While the dog is passively standing, hold the treat up to the dog’s face and then move it just above the dog’s head while moving the treat backwards, towards the dog’s tail. The dog should then follow the treat’s range of motion, sitting naturally and bending his/her legs.

As the dog is approaching the sitting position, give the command “sit.” Once the dog reaches a full sitting position, reward the dog enthusiastically by giving praise. “Good boy/girl!” works nicely. Accompany verbal praise with the treat.

If, for some reason, the dog does not sit, regain focus and repeat the steps. As the dog gets the hang of the trick, replace treats with verbal praise only.

The Tricks

Additional Tips

  • Avoid teaching this trick after mealtimes. The dog should be hungry and eager for the reward.
  • Don’t fret, panic or get angry if the dog does not grasp the command immediately. Be patient.
  • Always use the same exact command and the dog’s name. (“Ty, sit” versus “Sit down, Ty.”)
  • Try not to force the dog into the sitting position manually. Have the dog watch another dog perform the trick. This way, the dog does not associate training with you manipulating its physical position.