Training a puppy how to sit on command is one of the simplest and most important things you can do as the owner of a young puppy. Not only is sitting a useful command to know in a variety of situations, but after training your puppy to sit, most future obedience training will be much easier.
Ready? Here’s how to train your puppy to sit in a few simple steps.
- Pick your environment - Before teaching a puppy to sit, it’s important to ensure that the environment and situation are suitable. Ideally, you’ll want to train your puppy indoors since there are fewer distractions and they will be more focused.
- Purchase treats - You’ll also need to purchase some treats to use during the training sessions. Since your puppy is young, ensure that these treats are small and nutritionally recommended.
- Consider attention span - Since you’re training a puppy, you have to bear in mind that their attention spans will be much shorter than older dogs of the same breed. For this reason, it helps to try and read their mood. If your new pet seems focused and attentive, then continue training. But if they are frequently distracted, then it may be best to wait until a bit later before resuming.
- Get your puppy’s attention – Before teaching a puppy to sit, you will need to gain your puppy’s attention. One way to do this is by standing directly in front of your puppy so that he or she is focused on you. Bear in mind that because your puppy will probably be excitable and energetic, it might take a few tries.
- Grab a treat and show your puppy – Once you have your puppy’s attention, take out a treat and show it to them. Ensure that his or her eyes are trained on the treat. Normally, this shouldn’t be difficult, since your puppy will be trying to figure out how to get the food from your hand!
- Move the treat above and behind your puppy’s headOnce your puppy is concentrating on the snack, move the snack slowly above and behind your puppy’s head. You’ll need to ensure that the treat is not too high so your puppy jumps but low enough so he or she sits.
- Say ‘sit’ as your puppy sits – As your puppy sits you will need to say ‘sit’ in a firm voice. If your puppy doesn’t sit immediately, it is best advised not to say other words (e.g. ‘go on, sit’). By limiting your speech to only the command (‘sit’) and nothing else, it will help you to condition your puppy more quickly.
- Reward your puppy – Once your puppy is sitting, give your pet the treat as a reward. This is an important step to remember when teaching a puppy to sit.
- Praise your puppy’s behaviour - Follow up the treat with verbal praise (e.g. ‘good boy’/‘good girl’) and rub your puppy’s head. Along with the treat, this signals to your puppy that he or she did something that pleased you.
- Release your puppy from the sit position – Take a step back and issue a verbal command that you want to teach your puppy to get out of the sitting position (e.g. ‘go’ or ‘release’). Your puppy should get up and remember the command.
- Repeat process for 10 minutes – Repeat this process for no more than 10 minutes. Your puppy may become bored or tired if your training sessions last any longer than this. Try to fit in about two or three training sessions per day. It should take about 1-2 weeks of training a puppy until you pet sits on command, although it may be longer or shorter depending on the puppy.
- Reduce treats – Over time you should be able to reduce the number of treats you give them, until your puppy will sit on command without the need for any treats at all. At this point you’ve successfully trained your puppy to sit on command (well done!). Remember to give them a treat every now and then, though, so they still enjoy following the command.
- Less is more – When teaching a puppy how to sit, it’s important to remember to keep the sessions short. Puppies are already very energetic so it’s important not to overstimulate them. The tell-tale sign of an overly lengthy session is if your puppy runs away from you following a session. This might set the wrong tone for future obedience training since your leadership needs to condition rather than excite your puppy.
- Be relaxed – Being calm during training sessions is important, as it helps to show that you are assertive. This goes hand-in-hand with the next point.
- Patience – Since all puppies are different, training a puppy is not a one-size-fits-all process. Your puppy might learn very quickly or very slowly. Just remember not to fret - your puppy should learn the command after enough time.
- Different techniques – If your puppy isn’t taking to your current method, it might be worth researching alternative techniques. For example, some trainers are known to use a clicker instead of a treat. If you’re really struggling, or short for time, then you may want to enlist the help of a professional puppy trainer.
Training a puppy requires preparation, time and patience. If you’re able to tick these three boxes then you should be able to successfully train your pet to sit on command. While, at times, it can be frustrating, teaching a puppy to sit is ultimately a very rewarding experience. When your puppy is fully-grown, you’ll look back at your fun training sessions fondly!