Training can begin as early as eight weeks but even an older dog can be taught the simple command of “sit”.
As with any training, it is important that you use correct training methods. Most puppies don’t respond well with forceful training or physical correction. In fact, physical and harsh verbal corrections can cause a timid, fearful dog, as well as ruining the bond you have with your pet. The best motivation for a puppy to learn is positive reinforcement.
Positive reinforcement simply means praising and rewarding the desired behavior. Most puppies are eager to please their new owners and are willing to do what ever it takes for a smile and “good dog” reward. Edible rewards such as dry kibble, cooked liver or even wieners will often make a puppy sit up and take notice regardless of what is going on around him.
The best time to train your dog any command is right before its regular feeding time, as his interest in the food will keep him focused. When starting out any training, give the edible treat immediately following any correct response.
As your puppy gets better at doing what you command, alternate only a verbal praise in place of a treat. This will ensure your puppy will obey even when you don’t have food in your hand.
It is often easier to keep the treats in a belly pouch where it is easily accessible but hard to drop. Place this pouch on your right side so it will not be a constant temptation for your student. It can be irresistible to larger dogs when their head level during a sit is right beside the goodies.
In addition to the edible treats, you will want a sturdy web leash and training collar for your dog. This will prevent him from running away in the middle of a training session.
If you leave your dog some slack in the leash while standing on the opposite end, it will allow you to keep both hands free while still remaining in control.
It is also recommended you conduct training sessions in an enclosed quiet area. Backyards are best because there aren’t any distractions by other pets, people or moving vehicles.
When you start training your dog to sit on command, it is necessary to start with him in the standing position. You will also want to start him on your left side with his shoulders parallel to your left leg.
To begin the command, simply say your puppy’s name followed by “Sit” in a firm but friendly voice and hold the treat between thumb and forefinger of your right hand. Reaching across your body with your right arm may feel awkward at first but it will allow you to use your left hand if needed to force the hindquarters down.
After you have said the word sit, slowly move the treat upwards over the puppy’s head so the sniffing nose will point straight up. This will shift the puppy’s balance more into the sit position. If he sits on his own, reward him with effusive praise and an edible treat.
If he doesn’t assume the sit position on his own, repeat the verbal command to sit, again raise the treat but while doing this, run your left hand across the hindquarters and under the rump. This maneuver will force your dog to sit. Again it is important to give praise and a reward even force was needed to get the proper response from your pet.
As will any command training, always end on a good note. Limit session to time periods of ten to fifteen minutes. After each session, release the dog from his leash and play with him. This will ensure he doesn’t dread each class as well as letting him know the training is over.