Teaching the sit.
The sit is a relatively simple move to teach but it is a very important move. New handlers almost to the person ask the question,” how do I teach my dog to sit”? The sit and the recall are the first obedience commands that we teach too new dogs and handlers. Taught correctly with firmness and fairness the sit is a core behavior. What is a core behavior, a core behavior is a behavior that relates to or is connected to many other behaviors and is a move or behavior that other behaviors are built upon. For example, healing starts and ends with a sit. The down starts in the sit position. The sit stay of course starts with a sit. The recall starts with the dog is a sitting position waiting for the handler to call him. So, you see the sit is critically important, and taught correctly it becomes a core move.
Common mistakes made in teaching the sit.
Don’t say, “sit down”. My response to that is what do you want a sit or a down. These are two separate commands. One is the sit position the other is the supine position. Remember your command words are just echoing sounds to your dog. These sounds must be consistent and unique. Dogs do not understand speech they learn to respond to a particular echoing sound. We say that the echoing sound is the word sit. It needs to be said clearly, distinctly with clear enunciation and repeat it consistently with the voice going up in tone
Don’t Push Dog Butt
Another very common mistake I see in teaching your dog to sit is, dog Butt pushing. The handler says sit and pulls up with the leash and takes their other hand and pushes down on the dog’s butt forcing him into a sit position. “Wrong ” This takes away the dog’s opportunity to learn how to do it himself. If you push his butt in into the sit position who did it, you did, not the dog. Your job is to motivate the dog to do the behavior. Not physically force the dog into position, but motivate the dog to put his butt on the ground happily and quickly.
The sit game.
As I said before I start teaching the sit on the very first class that my students attend. Their first homework assignment is going to be, the sit game. Okay, so how do I teach my dog to sit properly. You first have to qualify for rule number one of the three major aspects of obedience training, which is focus. Once we, have the dog’s attention on the matter at hand. The dog is in the standing position take a small but tasty treat that the dog really likes.
Lightly and quickly touch the end of his nose with the treat and rock the treat up and back. Keep the treat about one inch away from the dogs nose, rock his head up and back towards his butt. His head will follow the treat naturally maneuvering his butt into the sit position.
As you, are doing this physical behavior, slowly but clearly In-tone the echoing sound sit. At this point in time you may repeat the command a second or even a third time. This should be done relatively slowly, very clearly and in a positive tone. As soon as the dogs butt firmly touches the ground, do three things simultaneously.
- Quickly, but calmly give him the treat.
- Praise him verbally, calmly and sincerely.
- Physically touch him, “pet”, again calmly and firmly.
As long, as he remains in the sit position. Continue with low calm praise slowly repeatedly saying good sit, good sit, there should be a very brief pause between the echoing sound “good” and the echoing sound “sit” If and when he stands up stop the praise, stop the petting. Which by, the way is a form of a correction. You may then begin again and repeat the procedure, adding correct, consistent, repetitions. As you, see the dog catching on to this procedure start to eliminate the treat. For example, start using the treat two out of three times then every other time and then one out of three and then you should have the ability to eliminate the treat entirely.
Now for the game part of it.
We now have a dog that is fairly proficient at sitting, or at least we have a procedure to get him into the sit. So now I tell my students, “during this next week if your dog wants,”_________________, fill-in the blank, in that blank would be anything that the dog wants. For example, if he wants water you want a sit first, if he wants food you want a sit first, he wants in the house you want a sit first, he wants out of the house you want a sit first, you are putting on his leash you want a sit first, if he wants attention, you want a sit first. Do not give your dog attention, petting, treats or any other form of positive inter-action without the dog being in the sit position. So, here’s the game part of it if he wants, _________________ he is going to communicate that to you by sitting. And we now have the beginning of
the problem-solving framework.
We know that if there is anything that a dog is quick to learn it is what is to his advantage! We have now given the dog a means to communicate to us that he wants something. How do we know he wants something, he came up to us and sat! Here is one example, if he started to jump on us when we got home from work etc., read jumping on me post. Then tell him to sit, as soon as he complies, calmly praise and touch him. Another example would be, let’s say it’s evening time and you’re sitting in your chair relaxing the dog comes up to you and sits. Now you must praise him. If he comes up to you and sits, he is communicating to you that he wants something in all probability it is attention. He has done what we taught him, he wants fill-in the blank in this case attention, you now must praise him or he will jump on you to get the attention that he wants. And jumping on you in this instance would be your fault! The sit is a simple move, but it has dramatic ramifications.
2 Reply to “How do I teach my dog to sit?”
On teaching the sit, my dog keeps backing up. How do you get him to stop backing up, so I get to the sit?
A great question to a common situation.
Keep the treat in close to your body. As he approaches you, make calm low volume praise and let him nibble on the food, “in you space”. Then go for the sit. This problem needs to be broken into two parts. One, a recall into your space. Which I will cover in greater depth in my soon to be published, “how to train a puppy to come” post. The second part is the sit. Remember he doesn’t get the treat until he is “in” your space and “sitting”.