While 'Sit' may not be crucial for a dog's safety, it's important because it's the basis for many commands. Not sure how to start training your dog to master sitting on command? Don't fret—we've got a step-by-step plan for you below:
Guide with a Treat
Getting your dog to sit for the first time is actually far easier than you think. The key behind this first sit is knowing that dogs track with their eyes and nose. Standing in front of your dog, say 'Sit' and hold a treat between your fingers in front of his nose, slowly moving the treat over to the top of his head. You'll find that your dog will follow the treat with his nose and tilt his head up, and once his head is far back enough, he'll naturally go into a sitting position (like magic!).
Once your dog has sat, shower him with praise and promptly give him the treat. Repeat this process with lots of praise several times until your dog can sit when you first show him the treat.
Slight of Hand
Once your dog has mastered sitting with a treat, hide the treat in your pocket and go through the same process as above, but this time with your empty hand. Once your dog has sat, give him the treat with your other hand. You want to repeat this process several times for your dog to get used to sitting without following a treat, and then you'll want to gradually lessen the hand motion until your dog can sit with just a voice command.
Practice Makes Perfect
Repeat the 'Sit' process with just a voice command everywhere you go, as often as you can, and at random moments with your dog so he can really learn to master it. If you aren't carrying treats with you, make sure you shower him with lots of praise every time he does a good sit.
Sit Master: Sit to Greet
My personal favorite variation on the 'Sit' command is having my dog sit when she greets people. Training this is fairly easy—it just takes a little anticipation. Every time someone approaches you and your dog, quickly command her to 'Sit' right when the other person gets within two feet of you, then reward the pooch with a high-value treat. If your dog doesn't sit or jumps in excitement, ask the other person to walk away and come back again, repeating the process. This will reinforce in your pup's mind that jumping (and anything besides sitting) drives people away, whereas sitting when a person approaches results in treats and attention.
Try to have fun while you're training your pooch! Remember, a little patience goes a long way and will result in a well-behaved, wonderful canine companion. For more training tips on crucial commands, check out our other Good Pooch tips on how to train your dog to 'Come' and getting your dog to 'Drop It' on command.