Teaching Your Dog to Sit

To begin teaching your dog to sit, get it into heel position, which means that it should be standing on your left side, with its ear in line with the seam of your pants, and its body parallel to yours.

Make sure the collar sits up nice and high on your dog’s neck. It should rest just below the ears. (Remember, this will not look natural to you, because this is not a normal collar. Think of it as a training device instead of a collar.) Make sure the collar is snug, but not tight. You should be able to slide one finger between the collar and your dog’s fur.

Tell the dog to sit. If it does not respond, pull up on the leash, which will pull up on the collar, which will pull up on the dog’s neck. Pulling up on the dog’s head will automatically encourage the dog’s rear to go down. If this is not the case with your dog, apply steady pressure until your dog complies. Do not choke the dog, but pull up with enough pressure to assure the dog that you are expecting it to do something. The dog will then be motivated to figure out what it is you want.

If the collar alone is not enough to persuade the dog to sit (which it usually is), with your left hand, reach down and gently apply pressure in the dog’s left groin area with your left thumb. With the rest of your fingers, apply gentle pressure to the rest of the dog’s hip. You are actually manually folding the dog’s hip into the sit position.

It is tempting to simply push down on the dog’s butt, but this is a bad idea for several reasons. First, it can damage the dog’s hip and with so many dogs prone to hip dysplasia, we certainly want to avoid that. Second, pushing down on the dog’s hips only encourages resistance. A dog will often lock its hips into place to resist your efforts. This is also unhealthy for the dog’s joints. And third, if you ever want to compete, you will be asked to put your dog in a stand, which means that you will ask your dog to stand, and the competition judge will test your dog’s stand by applying pressure to the hips. If you teach your dog to sit when it feels this pressure, it certainly won’t stand for a judge’s examination.

Praising your dog is always the key to success. When your dog does sit, you need to jump around like you’ve just won the lottery. Hug your dog and let it know you couldn’t be prouder. Then begin again. Your dog will want to please you.

Avoid the easy trap of repeating your command. You should only have to say “sit” once, and the dog should obey. If it does not, use your high collar and your left hand to gently make it obey. Be patient. Repeating your command will inadvertently teach your dog that it only has to comply when it feels like it, when it tires of listening to you say “sit.” You don’t want the dog to sit when it wants to sit. You want it to sit when you want it to sit.

Practice with your dog for ten to fifteen minutes every day. Any longer might turn training into drudgery and you don’t want your dog to dread training. Remember to exercise your dog first and then practice and remember to praise the heck out of the dog every chance you get.