Dog Training: How to Teach Your Dog to Sit

Updated: 3/15/20242-4 minutes

Teaching your dog how to sit is a vital part of his obedience training. It’s a basic command for dogs that forms the foundation for future training. Sit training is easy to teach, and it helps your dog get a positive start on his training activities. Once your dog learns the sit and stay commands, he can better control his impulses and move on to more advanced training.

When can you teach a dog to sit? Dogs of all ages can be taught how to sit and stay. Puppies as young as eight to 16 weeks old can begin simple sit training.

The sit command will come in handy when you are walking your dog and approach a crosswalk or when you are introducing your dog to new people. With more advanced training, sitting can become your dog’s default position, and the way he communicates “Please” for things he really wants.

Below you’ll find six steps from the pros at Purina for the best way to teach your dog to sit. Watch our video to see the tips in action.

How to Train Your Dog to Sit

The sit command is one of the most basic commands for dogs and lays the groundwork for obedience, trick, and agility training. Teaching this command will take repetition and rewards, but most dogs pick it up quickly.  

Before the first lesson, be prepared with lots of your dog’s favorite treats and a clicker. If you don’t have or want to use a clicker for sit training, you can use vocal commands and praise. Just make sure you use it consistently. It’s best to start in a quiet room where there are fewer distractions. 

Step 1: Get your dog’s attention with a treat 

  • Call your dog 
  • Hold the treat next to his nose 
  • Pro tip: 
    • Remove all distractions from the room to ensure your dog is focused on you 

Step 2: Raise the treat over his head 

  • Use the treat as a lure 
  • Raise your hand with the treat over his head, move your hand with the treat over his head, between his ears, and move it to his rear 
  • Pro tip: 
    • He’ll want to follow the treat to his back and will naturally sit 

Step 3: Give the sit command once 

  • Say “Sit” as the dog starts to move back into a sitting position 
  • Pro tips: 
    • If your dog won’t sit, don’t physically push his rear to the floor  
    • Try to give the command only once, as the word will lose its meaning to your dog if it’s repeated over and over

Step 4: Click or say “Yes” when he sits 

  • Click or say “Yes” or “Good job” when his rear hits the ground 
  • This signals to your dog that what he just did was what you wanted 
  • Follow up with reward and praise 
  • Pro tips: 

Step 5: Reward with a treat 

  • Immediately after you click/give a verbal signal that he did what you wanted, give him praise and a treat 
  • Pro tips: 
    • Make sitting your dog’s default position 
    • When he walks over to you and sits, give him a reward  
    • If he sits while you’re filling the feed bowl, reward that behavior 
    • You may have to ask your dog to sit in those situations, and with enough repetitions, he will sit without you having to ask

Step 6: Keep practicing 

  • Give him lots of praise when he follows the verbal command  
  • To get your dog to stand again, walk away or throw a treat in the opposite direction 
  • Then repeat the lesson 
  • Pro tips: 
    • Eventually fade the treat lure and reward your dog with praise most of the time, but you can still use treats occasionally 
    • Try using an empty hand to lure your dog 
    • As he gets the hang of that, make the hand gesture more subtle until you only need to raise your hand by your side 
    • To ensure the verbal command is strong, say it before moving your hand 
    • If your dog obeys before you start moving your hand, you can fade the hand signal and reserve it for noisy, highly distracting locations 

If your dog is not getting the hang of it or you’re getting frustrated, pause the training for a bit and come back to it later. Training should be fun and an opportunity for you to bond with your dog.

Remember, it takes patience and commitment to teach a new command. But once you’ve trained your dog to sit, you can start teaching him advanced commands for tricks and obedience training.

For more expert tips on training your dog, explore our dog training page.  

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