The Easiest Command You Can Ever Teach Your Dog
How To Train Your Dog To Sit
I like to start with “sit” because it’s easy to teach
Welcome to the first installment of our “101” series, where we teach you some of the fundamentals that will get you a fun, obedient dog QUICKLY!
When I was young my dad used to play pool, billiards, if you will. He taught me to always take the easiest shot for my first shot on an open table. It would build my confidence and set the mood for the whole game. This is why I like to start teaching new dogs the sit command. It can instill in new handlers a sense of accomplishment and make future training go better.
The sit command is a very commonly taught command. Everyone teaches their dog to sit – it’s often the first thing they teach. I’ve found that it is not the most useful command for keeping the dog still though. It’s not a position where the dog can be comfortable for any great length of time. That’s why when I need a stationary command I always use the “down” command but will show you the sit command because it is a good place to start working with the dog.
In our lesson on the down command we mentioned that down is a submissive position. When two dogs fight, one lies on the ground giving up control. Sit, however, is not a means of communication between dogs. This means that it’s not as challenging to teach the dog as far as control goes. It’s easier to get them to ‘sit’ than to ‘down’ in the beginning.
It’s also important when giving the sit command that we are clearly giving both a verbal and a visual signal. I simply raise my hand as if I’m swearing to tell the truth in court as I say the word “sit”. Be sure the tone is loud enough for the dog to hear you. You are not asking the dog to sit, you’re telling the dog what it is that you want it to do. When giving the command, hold the upright hand still for at least two full seconds so the dog can clearly see what you expect of them.
If they are distracted when you gave the verbal part of the command at least they can look back up and see what it was that you asked them to do. So you give the command “sit”, then silently count – one thousand two thousand.
At this point if the dog has sat you should lower your hand and wait a second more, and give them a bit of praise. If they have not responded at the end of two seconds then you should move your hand close on the leash and snap the line towards the dog’s back and up. This forces the dog into the sit position. Remember, as with all leash training, start softly and increase the severity of the correction as needed.
You can also start with one hand on the line and put your other hand on his haunches. As you push down on his rump you will pull back and up on the other line, forcing the dog to sit.
Be firm, but don’t push too hard. This allows the dog to learn the position. start off again softly, just encouraging the dog into the spot. Each time you do not getting a response from the dog, increase the firmness of the correction. Always be ready to praise the dog when they do the right thing!
Make sure that the dog maintains the sit position until you let them out of it. The only way to allow the dog out of the position is as you walk away, on your first step, as your foot hits the ground, clap your hands and say the word “OK” nice and loud. Continue to move away and remember, body language is important at this point when we are releasing the dog. They naturally want to follow you if you keep moving. If you simply stand still and say “OK” your body is saying “stay”.
If you say “GO” you have to drive forward and show the dog that’s what you want it to do. Once you’ve taken a few steps away then you can give the dog better praise than the praise they received while they were only sitting.
Don’t get all excited instantly! Keep yourself in control; wait for a moment to let them just think about what’s happened. This will build patience in the dog. Just a small bit of acknowledgment is enough when beginning dog training. If we give them all the praise in the world to start with then they’re not working towards anything.
I don’t recommend treats for a reward either. The praise that they get is reward enough when they sit, and again when you release them.
And that’s about it. Go through it a few times every day and in a couple of days you’ll have a decent sit command.