Let’s start with the basics. I would teach my dog to sit right after he was familiar with his name. You teach your dog to sit first and then the rest of the training moves smoother. Sit is the most important command since it can be used as a tool to help you get your dog’s attention, as the first step to most dog training exercises, a way to stop your dog from jumping on a person, etc. I have been a dog owner for years, but it wasn’t until my last pack that I learned the value of training. I also learned that it is much easier to do your training using ONLY positive reinforcement and dog treats!
What does “sit” mean:
The goal of the “sit” command is to get your dog both in a seated position AND looking at you for the next command/approval. IF your dog just sits, the training is incomplete. You may want to add a few minutes of training to teach him to pay close attention to you first. If he knows his name and observes you closely, teaching him to sit is easy and fun. The goal is that by the end of each training session, you, the trainer, and your dog feel accomplished. Do NOT end on a bad note. Do NOT practice for long periods of time, especially with a puppy that has a limited attention span.
In the beginning, it’s best to isolate yourself and your dog away from distractions. After he has learned the exercise well, mastered it, in private, then I like to move to other locations gradually increasing the external stimuli and upping the difficulty level. So, you’re in a quiet place. Now, make your dog aware that you have treats. In a couple of sessions, your dog will go into dog training mode instantly (he will pick up cues from you, that you’re not even necessarily aware of).
With your dog standing in front of you, produce a treat over his nose and very slowly move it over his head closer to his neck. It is the dog’s nature to end up seated. If he turns, falls, doesn’t get it at all. Use your free hand to gently guide (not push) his rear end to the floor. As soon as the rear touches the floor, say “SIT” and reward! Practice this many times in a row, since most dogs get it easily. After a few days, back off on the rewards and offer them only when he instantly obeys.
Have you been around dog owners who have to scream their dog’s name? I find them rather annoying and I don’t like doing that. That’s why I like to use hand signals as well as voice commands. For SIT I use my index finger which I sharply point to the ground between my feet. It’s best to teach your dog hand signals and voice signals at once. Also, it’s really important for later training that he sits right in front of your legs. Don’t forget that dog training tip, especially if you have visions of making your dog an excellent AKC Canine Good Citizen (my chiweenie recently became a CGC graduate).
More dog training tips to aid with the SIT command:
- It helps, especially if you and/or your dog are new at this, if your dog is a bit hungry. The dog treat value increases that way.
- Always use the SAME EXACT commands, verbal and physical AFTER the dog’s name (especially if you have more than one dog).
- Keep the rewards handy and easy for you to access. I did not want to buy treat pouches, and I resisted. But when I really got into dog training, I felt that it was the best option. All pet stores sell some type of dog treat pouch.
- Dog’s have a limited attention span so if you don’t reward instantly, it’s useless. Ideally, practice more than once a day but only for a few minutes.
Best of luck!