How to train a dog to sit

by Tamsin Durston

How to train a dog to sit

Why teach your dog to sit?

Teaching your dog to sit still can help to keep them safe when you’re out and about by giving them skills to use when crossing roads, queuing for ice creams or to use the cash point, or when meeting new people! It’s also a great way to practice your training skills.

How to teach your dog to sit

  1. Preparation makes perfect!
    It’s important to start training in a quiet and calm place such as your living room – without any distraction, interruption or temptation - and when both you and your dog are happy and relaxed! You’ll both be able to concentrate and be successful! You’ll also need rewards ready for your dog and these should be something they really enjoy! You’ll need lots of rewards to begin with, so small tasty treats might be a good idea.

  2. Making sure your dog knows they’re getting it right!
    You can say “yes” (or use a clicker) at exactly the time when your dog is doing what you want and this tells them that their reward is coming right away! So make sure your timing is spot on and always follow up saying “yes” with giving your dog their reward.

  3. Using a lure
    Luring means using your dog’s reward to guide them into the sit position. This means they get it right from the start and doesn’t involve any pushing or pulling them into the sit – which might hurt and/or make them worried about us!

  4. Luring them into position
    You don’t need to say anything – remember they have no idea what the word sit means at this point! Take a treat and hold it out to your dog’s nose, then slowly and smoothly raise your hand above and over their head. Your dog should move their head back as they follow the treat with their nose and when doing so, as their body hinges, their bottom should touch the floor. As soon as your dog’s bottom touches the floor say “yes” and then quickly give them their well-deserved treat.

  5. Dogs learn by repeating things
    Repeat this until your dog is quickly sitting down when you present and then move the treat from their nose to above their head. If they’re struggling just have a break and come back to it – learning is not always as easy for them as we might think! If we take things gently and go at their pace they’ll be more likely to enjoy learning and remember what they’ve learned. Remember to say “yes” and then give the reward as soon as their bottom touches the floor.

  6. Add in the word “sit”
    Start to say “sit” as you lure them into the sitting position. Carry on saying “yes” as soon as they sit down and following this with their reward. Repeat this stage several times so that your dog has lots of opportunity to connect the word “sit” with the action of moving into a sitting position.

  7. Try without a lure!
    Simply say “sit” as you move your hand exactly as you did before but without holding the treat in it! If your dog struggles without the treat in your hand you can use it for a little longer before trying again.

  8. Practice in different places
    Your dog might find it harder to practice in busier, more distracting places, so you might need to choose locations carefully to make it easier, or use an extra tasty treat to rewards their efforts! You might need to go right back to basics to begin with in a new place but your dog should soon work through the steps as long as you are calm, clear and consistent! 

How to Train a Dog to Sit

Training your dog to sit is just the beginning, explore more of our training guides or find your nearest Dog School and book one of our classes.