The foundation of all good dog training – don’t skip this!
There’s a good chance your dog already knows the “Sit” command, but don’t skip this lesson just yet! We’re going to review all the steps it takes to get to a good “sit” command, and why they’re really important for how you teach your dog everything else they’re ever going to learn!
The first step of teaching any new command is LURING. Follow this link if you want to review how to lure, and make sure you pick the RIGHT TREATS for the job (easy, medium, or hard!).
The easiest way to start teaching your dog how to sit is to lure first, in three steps:
Hold the treat in a “treat hand”, which means putting it in between your first two fingers and placing your thumb on top of it. This way your dog can smell and lick it, but can’t eat it. They will follow the treat like this!
Show the treat to your dog (and we mean really show it to them, right to their nose!)
When training your dog, many commands will start with a food lure. You’ll even use treats to “remind” your dog you have treats when they’re training around lots of distractions outside. When you want to lure or remind them about treats by, “show” them the treat by holding it in a flat hand and shoving it right up to their nose. There will be no way they can miss it and they will definitely be able to follow it.
Slowly pull the treat up and back and they’ll follow it (Don’t to use the word “sit” just yet! That comes later). Eventually their butt will hit the floor as they follow the treat and you should immediately say “YES!” and give them the treat.
This is an easy one! Practice the “sit” command with only using treat luring and your hands to get your dog to do 10 sits in a row.
Remember to lure them to “stand” after to reset!
Now that your dog is a pro at doing “Sit” when they’re following treats, let’s take it to the next level and do sit without luring! But how do you do that??? It’s very easy! With a trick called:
All you have to do is pretend there’s a treat in your hand, and when they do the sit, give them a treat from the other hand! It’s very easy to do this if you use the “treat hand”
It’s very important to begin fading out treats as soon as your dog knows how to do the behavior or command you want.
To do this, use the same hand you were luring with, but without a treat. Your dog will think there’s a treat there and follow your hand in the same way. When they do the behavior correctly, say YES and give them the treat from the other hand. This will start teaching them to not follow the treat all the time, but the hand instead.
Show your dog the treat just like you did before with normal luring for a sit. They need to know that you have treats!
This is when you switch! You’re going to lure your dog with one hand, but now there won’t be a treat there!
Now ask your dog to do a sit in the exact same way as before, with the same hand, but when they do the sit, give them the treat from the other hand!
Now you have to use both hands. Hold your hand like you have treats in it (Review this here: HOW TO GIVE TREATS).
Move your hand like you’re luring your dog to do a sit, and when they do, quickly say “YES!” and give them the treat from the other hand.
Now that your dog is a pro at doing sit with the hand signal, let’s take it one step further and get them to sit with just the voice command. This should be even easier if you’ve already done dozens of sits to practice levels 1 and 2.
The steps for voice command “sit” are:
First get your dog ready in front of you and say sit – one time. Don’t repeat it, just wait for them to sit on their own. If you’ve been practicing sit, they’ll probably do it pretty quickly.
Since dogs don’t understand human languages, you should avoid repeating commands like “sit”, “leave it” or “stay” many times in a row. Your dog will just learn that this is the way the command is supposed to sound.
For example, they’ll think the command is “SitSitSit” instead of just “sit”. So when you’re training, just say the command one time and wait for them to do it. If they don’t get it after 5 or more seconds, then you can try again.
If your dog hasn’t sat within 5 to 10 seconds, use the hand signal to ask them to sit. Do this a couple more times and they’ll start to figure out what that the word “sit” means.
Now ask your dog to do a sit in the exact same way as before, with the same hand, but when they do the sit, give them the treat from the OTHER hand!
Continue the steps explained above, aiming for 5 sits in a row where you only have to give the voice command and they don’t need to get the hand signal.
Remember to keep looking at your dog the whole time and smiling! Let them know that they’re doing it right! Your goal is to look like this: