to look to you for direction before getting access to valuable objects or activities. Your dog will learn to earn everything he wants (like walks, toys, dinner, couch time) by politely and automatically sitting.
Teaching your dog to sit to say “please” can help eliminate unwanted behaviors like demand barking, jumping up and whining. You’ll also be building the foundation for a positive, enjoyable relationship with your dog!
How to Start:
- Teach your dog a reliable “sit.” Need help? Ask your trainer for the Teaching Sit handout.
- Once your dog will sit on cue, turn sit into an automatic behavior. Hold a treat out of your dog’s reach. Without cuing him; wait for your dog to sit on his own. As soon as he does, immediately give him the treat.
- Repeat this game randomly throughout the day using pieces of kibble from your dog’s breakfast or dinner as the rewards.
- Once your dog will automatically sit for a treat, try adding a toy to the mix. Get your dog’s favorite toy, quietly hold it and wait for your dog to sit instead of jumping up or barking for the toy. As soon as he sits, immediately give him the toy.
If your dog barks or jumps on you, turn away or even walk away from your dog. Once your pup is quiet with all four paws back on the floor, start your practice again.
Once your dog has figured out the game, it’s time to start working towards an automatic sit for other rewards. Think of all the things your dog loves and enjoys: dinner time, treats, toys, opening a door to go for a walk, playing fetch, saying hi to another dog, attention from you, sleeping on the couch, getting in or out of the car, etc. Instead of giving these things away for free, calmly wait for your dog to offer a sit every time.
- Get your dog’s leash out. If your dog is excited and jumps on you, put the leash away. Wait a minute and get the leash out again. If your dog sits, immediately put the leash on.
- Grab your dog’s ball. If your dog barks at you to throw the ball, ignore your dog and walk away. Wait a minute. Come back to your dog and try again. If your dog sits, immediately throw the ball.
Be consistent. Make sure everyone in your household is following the same rules. Always make sure your dog is sitting before you give him a treat, throw the ball, or do anything he likes.
Don’t make your dog wait for the reward! We want the reward to be immediate, especially as he’s first learning. He’ll be too excited for the treat or toy and won’t be able to hold still for long.
If your dog is really struggling to figure out he needs to sit for a reward, and you’ve tried waiting him out, you can ask him to sit. If you’re being consistent, the goal is that he will start offering the behavior without being cued by you.
Need help? Call our free pet behavior help line at (503) 416-2983.