Teaching a dog to sit can seem like such an easy and trivial task. However, did you know if you teach “sit” properly, you can save time, money and lives?
The things we do at the foundation level with our dogs can translate to other aspects of their lives.
Think about this: if your dog can’t sit without you holding a treat, how do you expect them to listen to “come” when they’re chasing something down towards the road and you don’t have a treat?
If you can teach your dog the discipline to have the ability to sit under any circumstances, then your dog will be able to listen much more reliably to other commands.
This post will give a blueprint for teaching your dog sit so you and your dog will experience a much more cooperative and free life together.
Teaching a dog to sit
How to teach a dog to sit
Teaching a dog to sit may seem pretty straightforward, but some dogs need a little help to figure out what they’re being asked. There’s three steps to teaching a dog to sit.
Step 1: “luring” a dog by holding a treat above their nose and raising your hand up and saying the word sit.
Step 2: Pushing their hip down gently into a sit. Some dogs may do better if you scoop their butt. Say “Yes!” when their butt hits the ground and give a treat.
Step 3: Tell your dog that the sit is over by saying “free”, “break”, or “okay”
Some dogs happily learn this command, others can be so treat focused they can’t connect to their body! Other dogs may not understand at first. So we may have to get creative with how we teach our dogs the initial sit through various luring techniques, using spatial pressure or operant conditioning.
Once your dog has learned what sit means, it is now up to you to increase the dog’s ability to hold the sit no matter what else is going on. This is done by increasing the distraction, duration and distance when you practice.
Dog training tips for beginners
Summing up dog training in one phrase would go something like this: “You get what you pet”
In other words, dogs figure out what we want based on what we reward. A reward can be eye contact, attention, food, treats, couch time, meals, a walk, a toy or anything that makes your dog happy! You can also remember the phrase: “When… Then” from the dog’s perspective. “When my butt hits the ground in a sit position, then my owner gives me a treat”
For example, some dogs will shove their head under your hand so you’ll start to pet them. While this is usually adorable, the dog has learned that when they do XYZ behavior, then they get XYZ reward.
So, once we become aware of all the ways we’re rewarding our dogs, we can start to control and change their behavior and obedience.
What age to teach a puppy to sit
Puppies can start learning the sit command as early as 8 weeks of age!
Their ability to hold their attention and focus is limited, so you’ll want to train your puppies in short training sessions.
Even better, generalize the training to different environments.
For example, asking a puppy to sit before they go out the door will have a massive impact on your dog’s ability to listen to you in different environments.
How to teach an older dog to sit
Think you can’t teach an old dog new tricks? Think again!
Teaching an older dog to sit is one of the best things you can do for your dog.
Teaching our older family members new things and accountability help keeps their mind young and gives them responsibility.
5 Unexpected Benefits of Teaching a Dog to Sit :
1. Prevents your dog from getting hit by a car
Consider this: if you can teach your dog to hold a sit even while you put food down in front of them, turn around and walk away then you have a dog who is more likely to listen in other tempting scenarios.
Developing impulse control will increase your ability to control a situation where your dog is running towards the road.
Impulse control will be the difference between your dog listening or ignoring your come command.
You can help your dog practice obedience and impulse control by increasing the distractions during your training session.
This could mean changing the room or environment you practice in, throwing treats on the ground or asking a dog to sit while on a walk.
Teach a dog to sit without treats
2. Prevents aggression
Teaching a dog to quietly sit while other dogs, people, and things move around him will further the idea that you are the leader.
A dog that trusts their leader is less likely to become aggressive due to fear, protective instinct or for entertainment.
3. Keeps your dog out of the shelter
Unfortunately, surrendering a dog to a shelter due to behavior problems is an option.
These kinds of scenarios are almost always preventable behavioral problems that have been caused by owners allowing their dog to get away with certain behaviors and/or not demonstrating enough leadership for their dog.
On the other hand, if your dog were to end up in a shelter, a well-trained dog is far more likely to be adopted out quickly and to a good home than a dog that has behavior issues.
Behavior issues are likely to compound due to the stressful nature of living in a shelter.
Furthermore, if there is a bite a history, your dog could be at risk for behavioral euthanasia.
4. Prevents euthanasia
The liability associated with a dog bite, whether it is the first, third or fifteenth bite is high.
Depending on who or what your dog bites, you could be looking at anywhere from loss of freedom for the dog to legal fees if someone decides to sue, and even euthanasia for the dog.
There are so many variables when a dog has a bite history.
Teaching a dog a strong sit will have ripple effects that can prevent difficult decisions.
Train a dog at home
5. Saves money
There are two reasons people seek out a dog trainer: 1) because they want to prevent behavioral issues or 2) because they’ve run into behavioral problems.
Training your dog on your own from the beginning can save a ton of money and time spent on re-training your dog and dog training equipment.
Even if you end up hiring a dog trainer for basic obedience and preventative training, it usually won’t be as expensive as a trainer hired for behavior modification.
This post was all about the benefits of teaching a dog to sit.
About the author:
Alex is a Dog Trainer based in New York state that helps dogs and dog owners enjoy life together.
Her methods and theory revolves around finding solutions for each individual dog and household lifestyle.