Teaching your dog to sit on cue is a relatively simple task when you use proper positive reinforcement. With positive reinforcement, you’re able to teach your furry friend all kinds of different tricks and cues. Teaching your dog to “sit” on cue is one of the most basic skills your dog will learn, but also serves as the foundation to many other different behaviours you’ll likely want your dog to know as well. Whether you have a brand new puppy, or an older dog, you can teach your dog to sit with just a few simple steps.
Choose a Reinforcement
A reinforcement is something your dog loves, is small and easy for you to provide to them. You’ll use the reinforcement when your dog performs “sit” or any other behaviour you want to teach them. For most dogs, the best form of reinforcement is some form of treat. cut-up hot dogs, small pieces of cheese or store bought training treats are great options.
Choose a Marker
A marker is a sound or hand signal that pinpoints the exact moment your dog does what you’re asking them to do. A marker can be as simple as a consistently used work such as “yes” or “good” or a clicker. Regardless of what type of marker you choose, it’s important to be consistent – pick one and stick to it. Be prepared to “mark” the behaviour as soon as you see it. The more accurate your marking is, the more effective the teaching will be for your happy pup.
5 Easy Steps to Teach your Dog to Sit
1. Use a Treat to Lure Your Dog Into Position
Luring your dog is something you use that gets your dog to follow, such as a treat. Your dog focuses on the treat allowing you to move them into the position of the behaviour you’re teaching. With your dog standing in front of you, slowly raise the treat from your dog’s nose up and over their head. Your dog will try to “follow” the treat with their nose, resulting in them having to bend their back legs into a sitting position.
2. Treat and Repeat
Once their rear end is planted firmly on the ground, mark the behaviour and provide the treat to them. Repeat this a few times until your dog starts to anticipate your movements with the treat and starts the sitting action before the treat is lured over their head.
3. Add a Verbal Cue
Start with a treat in your hand again and raise it up over your dogs head. This time, as soon as they start to sit, say “sit” and immediately mark the behaviour. Give them the treat and praise and repeat a few more times.
4. Add a Hand Signal
Next, choose a hand signal you want to associate with the sitting action. A raised pointer finger is a common hand signal used for this behaviour. With a treat in your hand, make the hand signal with one hand and raise the treat up over the dog’s head with your other hand. As soon as your dog starts initiating the sit, say “sit”, mark the behaviour and give the treat. Repeat this a few times.
5. Remove the Lure
Once your pup has mastered the behaviour, the verbal cues and the hand signals, you can begin to remove the lure. This time, give the hand signal or say the cue without using a treat for a lure. Signal or say “sit” and the moment your dog sits, mark the behaviour, give them a treat and praise. Practice using just the hand signal or just the verbal cue.
Now that your dog can sit on command, you can begin to teach your dog other new tricks like “down” and “stay”. Remember to have fun with the learning process. It takes time for dogs to learn new tricks, but they can all learn regardless of age. Take your time and have fun!