Teaching “Sit”

Every dog should have one cue she can do anywhere, anytime. “Sit” is a great contender for that job. It gives your dog a way to say, “Please,” and can become her default greeting, which stops her from jumping on people.

How to train it:

  1. Say it. Hold a treat in your hand. Tell your dog, “Sit” in a cheerful tone of voice.
  2. Show it. Pause a second (one-one thousand), then lure your dog into a sit by putting the treat up to his nose and slowly moving the treat backwards and up. Keep the treat close to your dog’s nose—if you move your hand up too quickly or too far away from his mouth, he may give up and lose interest.
  3. Pay it. As soon as your dog’s hindquarters hit the ground mark by saying “yes,” praise, and treat.
  4. Repeat it. Repeat several times, as long as you and your dog are still enjoying yourselves. In the beginning mark, praise, and treat every sit.

Continue to practice several times over a few days. When your dog sits reliably, it is time to take the treat out of your hand and use the verbal cue alone. If your dog makes a mistake, first try luring without the treat. Only put the treat back in your hand if all else fails.

Tip! Only say the cue once. Say it, then pause, then lure.


If you have trouble with this exercise, try practicing with your dog standing in front of a wall or fence. This way, when you move her back, she has nowhere to go but into a sit. Then break the exercise into small steps. First treat your dog for putting her nose in the air. Then wait until she lowers her hindquarters and treat for that. Finally treat generously when your dog’s bottom touches the ground.

When to practice:

  • Before throwing a ball, giving him a toy, or handing him a treat or chewie.
  • Before putting the food bowl down.
  • Before opening a door, or before hopping in or out of the car.
  • Before putting on a leash to go for a walk.
  • Before taking off a leash at the park or beach.
  • Before dishing out a belly rub or good ear scratch, or before allowing him onto the couch with you.