Back to Basics: Teaching Sit in the Best Way Possible

townSo I admit, once again, that I forget how difficult it is for new people to understand the canine “gap” when they haven’t had one in a long time or have never had one.

I suppose it is not common knowledge to everyone, and once again I take for granted my 20+ years of training and knowledge when it comes to dogs.

I think, NO, no, I KNOW I understand dogs much better than I understand people.

So I “sing the song of my people” by writing articles and trying to help people understand more on canine learning and theory and even the basics.

Because after all, everyone has to start somewhere!

So recently I had a question on the “Sit” command and I realized I have never specifically written an article on “Sit”!

But I have neglected “Sit”!

So here we go!  A back to basics look at the sit command.


Traditionally, way back “in the day” the sit command was taught but pushing on the dog’s rump and forcing it to the ground.

Why That is Not the Best Way

The problem with this kind of training is that it relies on you to physically manipulate the dog.

The command is given and the dog waits for you to do your part, the pushing.

Most dogs get tired of being forced and eventually learn to sit on command (so you don’t push) but these dogs typically wait for the command and aren’t as reliable.

I don’t care to force my dog to do anything as I don’t think the behavior reliability and understanding is as strong.

Luringimpulse control

Now a days, most people lure the dog into the behavior.

They use a treat, put the treat to the nose of the dog and lift the treat up slowly.

The rump usually hits the ground as the treat goes up; then you can click and reward the dog.

The dog learns that sitting is rewarding.

And, although this way isn’t AS strong for teaching the dog to sit, it is pretty close!

I say it isn’t as strong because it still relies on YOU doing something to get the desired behavior.


Capturing is waiting for the desired behavior to naturally occur.

For this, I simply wait for my dog to sit (on his own) click and reward.

The dog learns that HIS action of sitting is desired and therefore chooses to “sit” more often in hopes of being rewarded.

This doesn’t require a human to make the desired behavior happen; however it is difficult for most people to be patient enough just to wait for a behavior to be shown.

And, Finally

And, finally there is the old classic, make your puppy sit for the food bowl.

You take your puppy, or your dog’s food, put it in a bowl and wait for him to sit.

As he sits, you begin to lower to bowl.

In most cases as the bowl lowers the rump lifts (and wags), so at that moment the bowl then begins to go up again.

The puppy or dog learns, that in order to get fed, he has to sit and wait patiently for his food to be placed on the ground.

This gives you both the sit and a bit of a make shift stay (which can be extended in time).

Personally I like doing a combination of luring or capturing and wait for the bowl because it teaches some patience.

I like the “two birds with one stone” aspect of sitting and waiting for you meal.  I also like to train and interact with my dogs for their dinner, instead of making them just eat from a sterile bowl.

I like social dinners and I know my dogs do too!  They actually eat more and quicker when we are working for their dinner!

So there you have it folks, the quick and dirty on the sit command!

Get out there, get training and as always have fun!


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  1. Christiaan Nugroho says:

    Most training is about making a dog becomes nice/obedient. My problem is the oposite. I have four German Shepherds, they are too sweet, willing to be pet by anybody at first encounter. I long to have fierce watch dogs, to strangers


    Minette Reply:

    No you don’t, a fierce dog is a liability that can end with you losing everything you own and your dogs losing their lives.

    Read this


  2. Susan A says:

    Can you recommend a book for training a new puppy?


    Minette Reply:

    Karen Pryor, Don’t Shoot the Dog


  3. Rod Howell says:

    my 19 month old female German 2 situations that are hard to correct, greeting people at the door or going crazey when the door bell rings, but the most trobling is chasing vehicles, I have tried several things, there is 2 sides to this issue, I live on a dirt road and we walk several time a day and she chases what ever comes by, not a busy road on a 30 min walk 3 to 6 cars, if 2 or 3 come together, she only chases the last one. When in town walling by a 4 lane busy road, she does not chase anything, thank for you help.


    Minette Reply:

    She needs a leash read this It isn’t worth risking her life


  4. Peyton says:

    My puppy understands the command sit because she will do it when I have her food bowl in my hand. She sits perfectly fine and I make her wait about 3 seconds before putting the bowl on the ground but any other time, such as telling her to sit before I open the door to go back in the house from a walk, she ignores the command and I try pushing her but down after saying the command about 3 times but she just won’t sit


    Minette Reply:

    Why not use treats and reward her for good behavior? She is sitting because you have her food, if you use treats and positive reinforcement to condition the behavior at other times then the command will become reliable. Also reward when she does it on her own and you will see her choosing the behavior more often. It isn’t about forcing her, it is about teaching her… and she doesn’t understand English or your commands so you must teach her and show her what you want.


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