“Sit” is one of the first things folks practice when they bring home a new puppy or dog. However, practicing in your living room, treat hovering over your pup’s head does not make for a perfect “sit” when you are chatting with your next door neighbor who keeps petting your jumping dog.
Because humans like to talk so much, it is easy to teach your dog that “sit, sit, sit, sit, sit, SIT” means “put your butt on the ground”.
We like to prevent that. For the first three repetitions, just get your dog to sit, without saying anything. Take a nice, smelly treat and place it right at your dog’s nose. Keep it glued to your pup’s nose as you slowly go over your pup’s head. You are drawing a line with the treat; when your pup follows the line with his nose, his butt magically hits the ground. If your dog keeps jumping up to get the treat, your hand is too high. If your dog does not follow the treat, you are moving your hand too fast. The cookie in your hand stays glued to your pup’s nose. Yep, we already said that, we know. If you caught it, you were likely doing it right! The only thing you should say is “YES” when your dog’s rump is on the floor. Give that cutie pie the treat. Repeat this two times.
Once you know your dog can “sit” when prompted to do so (very different than sitting on her own); get yourself ready by putting your treats in your left hand and be prepared to communicate with the right hand. Say “Sit”, only once. Then, give your pup the hand signal, right arm starts at your right thigh then moves upward towards your right shoulder. If your pooch does not instantly plant his bottom on the ground, do not keep saying “sit” over and over again. It will only teach your dog to ignore you. Take that treat from your left hand and lure it over your dog’s head, “yes” and give it to him when he “sits”. Repeat two times. It is absolutely important to give the cue “sit” and hand signal first then after a couple seconds, help your dog out with the lure. If you say “sit” with the treat already in your hand, at your pup’s nose, he or she will not hear a word you said and will only respond if you have food.
Once you have the above three times, give the hand signal and verbal instructions and give your pup a second to think about it. If he “sits” before you introduce the lure, give him that treat! You are now rewarding for good behavior, not using the food to make that behavior happen.
Practice in your living room and all different areas of your house to make it nice and strong. Then you are ready to rock your “sit” outside and when friends come over. Just remember, every distraction makes it harder for your dog so if he looks at you like he has no idea what you are talking about the first time, start from the lure and repeat the above process. He’ll get it. Be generous with rewards outside and around people when starting “sit” work, but never near another dog! Ready for “down” and “stay”?