Dog Owner Essentials – Teaching Your Pup to Sit


Obedience training with your new pup serves a crucial role in your relationship. It helps create an incredible bond, builds trust, and you’ll ultimately earn his or her respect. It also will bring tons of joy and smiles, and training will give you peace of mind knowing your dog is manageable and well behaved. Training will also drastically decrease any potential safety risks. As local trainer Delaware K9 Academy suggests, you should begin training as early as 8 weeks old.

There are countless of cute tricks and commands you can teach your puppy, but it is important to start with the true basics to begin teaching your puppy how you communicate. The American Kennel Club suggests teaching your puppy how to sit first, before increasing the difficulty and working on other commands. Learning to sit is extremely easy and a great way to start bonding with your dog. The only thing you’ll need is a couple treats and some patience before your dog will be sitting with ease, on command.

Teaching your dog the correct way to sit…

In order to be successful with training your puppy how to sit, you’ll need to understand there is an actual proper way to sit. Teaching the correct “form” of sitting will help with his or her posture and will help them to be more attentive. Here are a few unusual sitting positions to look for:

  • Puppy sitting – Often times with young puppies, they tend to display less bodily control. They will have a sloppy sit, which is usually characterized by their legs splaying out to the sides, with uneven positioning in their knees. If you allow your dog to get used to sitting like this, it could potentially lead to medical issues down the road as they develop into fully grown adult dogs.
  • The Frog Sit– If you notice your dog sitting like a frog, you may think your dog is simply relaxed. However, sitting in this position could actually indicate early canine hip dysplasia. While it can be rare, you want to ensure you’re monitoring it and keeping a close watch for this. Take note of any discomfort or pain when your dog is sitting, and have your dog checked out by a veterinarian to rule out any medical issues.

If you notice either of these two positions, you should work on creating the proper sitting position and marking that good behavior with rewards and praise.Your pup should be able to tuck their tail behind and around their legs neatly and closely, and sit up straight when sitting. Once your dog is doing this correctly on a consistent basis, you can move on to more advanced obedience commands.

Utilizing Food During Play Time

Now that we have established what a proper “Sit” looks like, we can begin creating a nice little training routine. I prefer to use the dog’s regular dry kibble to use as a lure and a reward when training dogs. If your dog is slightly less interested in their kibble, you can try using another type of treat in the meantime while you build your dog’s food drive.

Having a quality treat pouch to keep on your hip is a great way to always be ready to mark and reward good behavior when with your dog. If you are rewarding correctly, your dog will learn the proper way to sit in no time, and will begin offering the behavior consistently even without being told to do so, in hopes to be rewarded with food. From this point on, you will have a higher success rate of sitting on command.

How To Teach The “Sit” Command

With your bag of food ready on your hip, you can prepare for your first training session. There are 2 main parts to the equation – having food ready to mark and reward the behavior, and giving the command.

For the first step of having food ready, you’ll want to hold the food out in front of your dogs nose, and lure them up into the sitting position. With your hand as a lure, you can move your hand up and back past their nose, forcing their head to move upwards and backwards. This will typically push the dog back into a sitting position. As soon as your dog goes into the sitting position, mark the behavior with a “yes” or “good” and then feed the dog from your hand.

You will want to repeat this over and over and over, several times a day, until your dog consistently performs the behavior without luring with food.

Paired with the verbal command, you can also use hand gestures to communicate what the dog should be doing. You’ll do the same exact steps from before, but this time, introduce a hand signal at the same time. Ultimately, your dog will be able to understand and listen to either of the commands – verbal or hand gestures.

When working with a puppy, it’s important to take things nice and slow to prevent them from feeling overwhelmed or confused.

How Often Should I Train My Dog?

Every single dog is different when it comes to attention spans and training. Some dogs have high retention abilities while others may need far more repetitions. For this reason, it’s difficult to say how long you should be working with your dog and how often. Rather than trying to dictate a certain schedule, a good practice is watching your dog and seeing how they are progressing. You’ll notice the dog starting to drift off and lose interest once the trianing session has gone on for too long.

You want to avoid over-trianing as much as possible. This will ruin the dog’s desire to train and will ruin the fun of it. Finding the right balance will keep things fun and exciting and keep them motivated to learn. Consulting with an expert dog trainer is also a great way to ensure you do everything properly. 

So What Comes Next After “Sit”?

Training your dog to sit is rather simple and won’t take much time to master. Once your dog learns the basics of communicating, it will be easy to move on to other commands, like Place and Down. Move slow and have patience when teaching new commands, just like you did with teaching Sit. It’s a brand new behavior for them and you’re looking for a consistent outcome. Reward often, have patience, and most of all, have fun!