Canine Manners 101: Teaching Your Dog To Sit

Sit is one of the commands we often ask of our dogs, and thankfully it is one of the easiest to teach correctly! It is a very natural movement for most dogs, thus they catch on to the behavior quickly. However, we sometimes see people using unnecessarily forceful methods to enforce the “sit” behavior. Pushing a dog’s bottom to the ground is not an effective way to teach a sit and can actually cause orthopedic issues.

The concept: Your dog’s bottom follows his head. Use this to your advantage.

Step 1 - Start with your dog in a standing position in front of you. Be prepared with a pocketful of yummy treats.

Step 2 - Hold the treat between your fingers and move it just above your dog’s nose, up, and slightly forward (away from you, towards your dog’s tail).

Step 3 - The path of the treat should be such that if your dog follows his nose he will end up in a sit position before he even knows how he got there. The *instant* this happens give the treats and lavish praise, i.e. “good SIT!”

Remember to train in short sessions (5-10 minutes) at least a couple times a day, and always make it a fun game for your dog! Rewards and tons of praise make training something your dog will look forward to.


If your pup attempts to mouth your hand or is having trouble focusing, this is not a good time for training. Take her out for a good play session and then try again. She shouldn’t be full of energy when you are trying to teach a new command.

If you are holding the treat too high above your dog’s head he may attempt to jump at the treat instead of lowering himself towards the ground. Try lowering your hand.

If your pup is moving backwards for the treat, you may want to try training sessions against a wall or a piece of stationary furniture, so she has no room for backing up.

If he isn’t interested enough in the treats you’re using to follow their lead, try training before a meal, when he’s sure to be hungry. Also consider using very soft, meaty treats, as these will be the most appealing.

Canine Manners 101 Training Series


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