How to Teach a Dog to Sit: 3 Simple Steps

Woman gives treat to her dog while teaching how to teach a dog to sit

Bringing home a new pup is an exciting adventure—you can’t wait to start training them to be well-behaved companions. But first, you have to nail the basics, like teaching them to sit on command.

For first-timers, getting an energetic ball of fluff to actually park it on the floor might seem like an impossible feat. You probably envision chasing them around with treats, wrestling matches, and general chaos.

Relax.

Teaching a dog to sit is one of the simplest commands you can cover from an early age. With the right techniques and some patience, you’ll have your pup’s rear hitting the deck in no time. This essential skill also lays the foundation for more advanced training down the road.

Ready to get started shaping an obedient pup? Follow this step-by-step guide on how to teach a dog to sit.

How to Teach a Dog to Sit

Follow this quick and simple guide to quickly teach your dog to sit.

dog trainer teaching dog to sit sequence

1. Lure Your Dog

Like any good student, dogs learn best when rewards are involved. Start by “luring” them into the sitting position using a small nibble of food as a guide.

Begin by letting your dog take the food from your hand a few times so they get familiar with the process and become eager to follow your hand. As they commit to following your hand, slowly guide it forward and upward. Most dogs will instinctively sit back on their haunches as they strain to keep their eyes trained on that tempting treat.

If your dog jumps up instead, lower your hand a bit since they might overextend to reach it. Once their bottom hits the floor, immediately say “yes!” or use a clicker, then reward them with the treat. Repetition is key here – keep practicing this luring motion until your dog automatically sits every single time you guide them with your hand and the food.

2. Fade the Lure

As your dog consistently sits in response to the luring motion, you’ll gradually want to start fading the lure itself. The goal is to transform that hand motion into an actual hand signal or visual cue for the “sit” command.

Do this by speeding up your hand movement and shortening the distance it travels. Over time, your dog will pick up on the pattern of following that moving hand and sitting, even without the treat being present. Be sure to reward every sit with a “yes” marker and a treat!

Once your hand signal alone is enough to prompt them into the sitting position, it’s time to…

example of how not to lure a dog into a sit

3. Give it a Name

You’ve laid the groundwork by getting your pup to understand the motion and positioning for sitting. Now, you can attach a verbal cue to solidify this new skill.

Why wait until this point to put a name to it? Well, dogs are primarily visual learners, especially during the initial training phases. When you did all that luring and hand signaling, your dog was so focused on the visual cues that any words you said likely went in one ear and out the other.

To properly “charge” the verbal cue of “sit,” be sure to follow this order:

  1. Say “sit!”
  2. Give the hand signal you’ve practiced
  3. Your dog sits
  4. Immediately mark the behavior with “yes!” or a click, and reward

By adhering to this sequence, you’re helping your dog connect that particular word to the action you want. Before long, you’ll be able to say “sit” and have your dog promptly obey.

As with any new skill, sustained repetition is key to solidifying the sit command in your dog’s long-term memory bank. Keep practicing with treats or even kibble at meal times, and soon, they’ll sit on a dime!

Conclusion

And there you have it – a straightforward, three-step process for how to teach a dog to sit. By combining lures, visual cues, and clear verbal markers, you’re setting the stage for an obedience superstar.

Mastering “sit” isn’t just about showing off, either. It establishes a critical foundation for your pup to build more training skills. Once they’ve nailed this basic behavior, you’ve created a mental pathway for them to receive, understand, and execute on your cues. That positive learning experience will make it much easier as you progress to tougher commands and tricks.

Next up? The down command!

Don’t get discouraged if you’re struggling to get your dog’s rear on the floor or hit a training plateau. Consistency and patience are key. Stick with it, and before long, your four-legged pal will be sitting on cue like a pro. Need some extra guidance? Feel free to reach out or join my newsletter for tips and tricks for all things dogs.

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