White GoldenDoodle sat on a bench
© Unsplash

How to train a puppy to sit

By Dawn Parrish Content Writer

Updated on the

The very first command that most pups learn is “Sit”. It’s one of the foundation skills that owners teach their cute dogs. But how do you begin to train your puppy to sit?

This first instruction that you will give to your new puppy helps to teach self-control and focus. It isn’t a difficult task and it will certainly come in handy throughout your dog’s life. Begin your training session indoors in a secure location. Once your pup masters the instruction you can gradually take your lessons to outdoor locations.

Sitting is an important puppy skill

Because sitting down is a natural action for your dog, this should make the training even easier. Or so you would think! However, teaching your pup to sit when you want him to and not just when he thinks to, are two different things.

Begin the training session

Hold the treat in front of your dog's nose©jennifer.regnier, unsplash

Begin by kneeling or crouching down to your pup’s level. Take a treat reward that you will use to lure your dog into the seated position.

#1. Holding the treat near your pup’s nose in your hand, first raise it up and move your hand in the direction of the back of the dog’s head.

#2. As you move your hand in an upward movement, your puppy’s head should focus on the treat.

#3. When your pup’s head lifts up, his bottom will lower down towards the ground. This should be his normal sitting position.

#4. The moment your puppy sits, use your affirmation comment “Sit” or clicker if using this method. Immediately reward the pup with a treat.

Repeat these steps until you are happy that your puppy understands and reacts positively every time. The action of you moving your hand towards his head should operate as his visual instruction to sit. Your comment “Sit” should be the final step and when he earns his treat.

Troubleshooting when you teach your puppy to sit

Of course, it’s highly likely that your cute puppy won’t understand your instructions immediately. Don’t give in as there are some other ways to train your puppy to sit on command.

Turning around

When learning this new trick, your puppy’s aim, is of course, to reach the treat. If you lift your hand too high over his head this can sometimes happen and he will turn his body. The next time you try, only raise your hand about 8cm above your pup’s nose, no higher.

Jumping up

When you are attempting to train a puppy to sit, your pup's focus is on the treat. If he begs for it or attempts to jump at you to reach it, you may have lifted your hand too high. Likewise, with the previous hint, keep your hand lower while holding the treat and try again.

Teach your puppy the "sit" command ​​​​​​©Pixabay

Losing interest

If you try this trick too many times your puppy will soon lose interest. Above all, he needs to be keen and hungry or he just won’t be interested in a delicious reward. Your best option to teach your puppy to sit is to wait until just before his feeding time. He’s going to be more co-operative because he is hungry.

Have lots of practice at teaching your puppy to sit

Whenever you get the chance, practice puppy training and even take obedience classes if you can. Having your puppy sit on command will have its advantages in many everyday situations. Ask him to sit before feeding, offering him his favourite toy, stroking him and certainly before feeding him. Training your puppy to sit also helps when he is bouncing around, excited to be getting a lead on to go for a walk.

Remove the treats

Remove the treats once the puppy masters the "sit" command©Pixabay

Now that your puppy has mastered the “Sit” command and action, it’s time to make him understand that he doesn’t always get a treat. Similarly, you don’t want him to think that the only time he does as he is asked is when he gets a reward. In contrast, offer a playtime, a tickle under his chin or a stroke, as his treat. Finally, you should be able to remove the treats completely. You certainly don’t want to end up with an obese dog. Offer his rewards for good behaviour in the form of affection and verbal praise only.

When you take on the challenge to teach your puppy to sit, remember that any training procedure takes time. Even though the “Sit” task is one of the easiest to learn, small puppies tend to have very limited attention spans. Commence your training sessions in exercises of just 10 to 15 minutes. Take a break if your puppy appears to be tired or rather distracted. You can easily resume the training later.

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