There is an old adage regarding the difficulty of teaching old dogs new tricks, but many owners also find difficulty with training new dogs as well. For those of you out there who fit into this latter group – fear not! Any dog is trainable with the right amount of patience and technique.
Sitting is one of the most important commands for a dog to learn. In fact, it serves almost as a prerequisite for many other commands that should be learned eventually (i.e. stay, lie down, etc). To borrow a different animal’s metaphor, there is more than one way to skin a cat. Likewise, there is no ‘right’ way to teach a puppy to sit so long as the end result is achieved. That said, I highly recommend using a reward based method. Those who use negative feedback to accomplish this may get the desired outcome, but find that it leads to other behavioral issues with their puppy down the road.
Without further ado, here are 3 historically successful methods for teaching a puppy to sit:
* The first method is the easiest. All dogs sit on their own at random times – it is a very natural action. When you want to make this action available on command, make sure to have some treats in your pocket when going about your daily business in the presence of your puppy. When you catch the puppy sitting, give it the ‘sit’ command and then reward and praise it. The puppy will eventually associate that getting into the sit position with the command and receiving a treat. While this requires the least amount of time devoted specifically to training, it can take the longest period of overall time to achieve the desired effect.
* Most of the time, it is more effective to work directly with the puppy and get it to associate the action of sitting with a command and reward rather than simply being in the sit position. There are two primary methods available to achieve this result. The first is to hold a treat over your puppy’s head and give it the sit command. By keeping the treat at the same elevation, but moving it towards the back of the dogs head and into its body, the dog will be forced to lower its back end to keep its eyes on the treat. When this occurs, praise it and give your puppy a reward. After a few successful repetitions, stop moving the treat – the puppy should eventually begin to sit on its own. After accomplishing this, try it without showing the treat at all. The puppy will begin to sit simply on command. Make sure to always give a reward after achieving the desired result.
* Some might find that a high energy puppy will not stay still well enough for them to move the treat around. You cannot move it towards the back of its head and into the body if it is constantly jumping at your hand. The solution here involves the aforementioned second method. In this case, put the puppy on a leash. Pulling upwards on the leash will lead to the dog automatically lowering its rear legs. Give the command, pull vertical on the leash, and then reward the dog for the action.
Most importantly, remember that dog training is not a chore. It is an opportunity to bond with the animal and provides numerous benefits long term. Teaching a puppy the basic command of sit can set a foundation to be built on for years to come.
Pet Finder – Dog Rescue Site
Greensboro Paws – dog walkers in greensboro
AKC – American Kennel Club