Train your dog to sit

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Learn to train your dog to sit! Whether Fido is to be the family pet or a national champion, sitting on command is a useful skill to have.

  Sitting is often the foundation upon which other training tricks and behaviors are based.  For example, once your dog will sit on command, you can move on to ‘stay’ which is another important ability in a pet.  

Treats or No Treats
There are two types of dog trainers: those who use food and those who do not.  Both methods work.  Both are fine to use.  You have to decide what will motivate your dog.  Some dogs will fall all over themselves for a kind word or pat on the head from their owner.  Others are more motivated through their stomach.  Experiment a little with your dog to see if the way to his heart takes a detour through his stomach.

What Kind of Treats

Be choosy of what kind of treat you give your dog.  Never give a dog chocolate.  And avoid large snacks; overweight dogs are as unhealthy as overweight people.  A favorite motivator is a small piece of hot dog.  Slice a hot dog into thin pieces and microwave for 20 seconds or so on a paper towel.  These little bits of fragrant meat are a favorite of dogs everywhere.  Another easy and inexpensive treat is to use soft dog food.  Normally most veterinarians do not recommend this type of dog food because of its high chemical content.  However, if you are using it for treats, soft dog food is perfectly fine and certainly inexpensive.  Make sure your dog likes it before investing in a large bag.

Getting Started

You can stand with your dog on your left or face your dog and say, “Sit.” in a firm, kind voice.  Raise your right hand (with or without a treat in your fingers) above your dog’s nose.  His natural instinct will be to look up and sit down.  You can lightly touch your dog’s rear end to give him the idea that he is to lower his rump to the ground.  Never push on your dog’s hindquarters as you could injure the back or hips.  Once your dog sits, praise him loudly and enthusiastically, “Good Dog!” and give him the treat if you are using treats.  You may also incorporate a gentle tug on a dog’s collar with the leash to raise his head and get him in the correct position.  It is also useful to incorporate a hand signal into this training.  Once your dog has mastered the verbal signal, you may teach him to sit to the hand signal of your choice.  

Don’t be disappointed if it takes a while for Fido to get the idea.  Keep trying and reward any progress the dog makes.  Never punish your dog for not sitting.  He won’t understand what he is being punished for and punishment just doesn’t work well in animal training.  Limit the training sessions to five minutes at a time.  Working for longer periods may be unproductive, as the dog will lose interest.

Moving on to ‘Stay’
The stay command is very important.  Learning the ‘stay’ command is something of a safety issue.  In an emergency you want to be able to keep your dog from crossing a busy street or approaching a fearful child.  This command is not as easy as the sit.  However, it is well worth the effort to work on the stay with your dog.  Once your dog will consistently sit on command, you can begin work on ‘stay’.  Firmly as your dog to stay and silently count to three.  As your success increases work your way up to twenty counts over the course of a week.  Again, reward your dog for every step in the right direction even if he has only remained at the sit for a few seconds.  If your dog tries to get up before time is up, gently put him back in the sit and start counting again.  Teaching the stay requires more patience and perseverance than sitting does.  But it’s well worth the effort.