How to Teach Your Dog to Sit

One of the first things people want to do when they get a dog is to learn how to teach the dog to sit. However, is it just something cute to have your dog do, or are there any benefits to having a dog who is trained on how to sit? Actually, teaching your dog to sit is a very important part of training your dog.

Why It Is Important to Learn How to Teach Your Dog to Sit

Learning how to train your dog to sit is quite important for a few reasons:

  1. Your dog learns to look to you for direction

Because your dog has to listen and follow your command, you are not just training your dog to you are, in reality, training your dog to follow directions that you give. This is an essential skill for your dog to have and will help with other training as well.

  1. Being able to have your dog sit when you need him to can help to redirect his energy and his focus from something else

This skill is crucial. For instance, let’s say you are walking your dog and someone else is coming toward you also walking a dog. You want your dog to focus away from the dog coming toward him so that he can remain calm and polite. What is the first thing you need to do? Get your dog to sit.

  1. Being able to have your dog sit when you need him to is the first step in getting him to calm down and wait

For example, I was speaking to a client yesterday who taught her gorgeous lab to sit before getting her food. She did this because she said her dog would be extremely rambunctious at feeding times and would jump up and down and even head-butted her once. The solution? She taught her to dog sit and to wait while she prepared her food. The dog was only allowed to leave her “sit position” when the owner gave the OK. This helped to save the owner considerable stress and made the dog have a task to focus on while the food was being prepared.

Tools and Materials Needed to Teach Your Dog to Sit

The advantage is that you do not need any special tools to teach your dog to sit. All you need is patience and calm energy. Do get frustrated or assume you are doing something wrong if your dog does not learn it right away. Dogs can sense if we are frustrated or stressed and this passes on to them, which makes it harder for them to learn.

So, make this a fun experience for both you and your pooch. It should be a time for bonding and relaxation. It is not boot camp.

The only other thing you need are some treats. Most dogs will work quite hard to get a treat, so this will speed up the learning. Remember also that praise is a huge treat for your dog so you can do a combination of treats and praise when teaching your dog.

How to Teach Your Dog to Sit

  1. Start off with a treat in your closed hand
  2. Get on your dog’s level and hold the treat close to his nose and move your hand back toward his rear end
  3. Your dog’s nose will follow your hand and, as it does, his rear end will go down into the sit position
  4. As soon as his rear end touches the floor, let him have the treat. Then, give him lots of praise
  5. Repeat

Some Points to Keep in Mind

  • Do not spend very long periods of time teaching your dog. It can be very tiring for him and you. Rather, do the training in short windows and make it fun for both of you.
  • Never force your dog to sit by pushing down on his rear end.
  • Reinforce the learning by having your dog sit before feeding, sit before getting his leash on, sit before leaving for your walk, sit at the door before coming back in and so on. Doing this not only reinforces the training, but it also makes sit so much more than just a cute trick. And it speeds up his learning.

What Do the Experts Say?

Victoria Stilwell


Victoria Stilwell recommends using treats or toys to teach your dog to sit. She recommends patience and perseverance while teach your dog to sit. She also recommends never forcing a dog to sit by pushing down on it.

Cesar Millan

Cesar recommends practicing pack leadership and calm assertive energy with your dog at all times in order to best help train him. He also notes that it is important to keep training sessions short and to keep your dog wanting more rather than tiring him out and having him get discouraged. Above all, both Cesar and Victoria recommend having lots of patience. It takes time for all of us to learn new things and the same time should be given to your dog.

More Dog Training Articles

Did you enjoy reading this article? Read more articles in our dog training series:

Train Your Dog to Leave It

Teaching Your Dog to Drop It

How to Train Your Dog to Heel

Train Your Dog to Come When Called

Potty Train Your Puppy

Have you taught your dog to sit? What has worked well for you?




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