[A] Teaching SIT
Article copyright: Joan Walker

This is the BASIC in teaching your dog to sit. You need to master NO before you master any other training command with the dog. It is important that he understands what NO means.

This lesson does not teach the hand signals that go along with obedience training. We can get around to that at a later date.

Today's lesson features Goliath showing off his skills.

Sadly we lost Goliath on the last day of 2010. He is very much missed.

Teaching your dog to sit:

Now that you have your dog understanding the word NO!, why don't' we start teaching Rex how to sit and stay sitting?

The sit command is the first command you should teach. This is the foundation of all your other commands in basic obedience for your dog.

Teaching your dog some basic obedience is essential to a well adjusted dog that has respect for you, the attention span needed to be a well behaved dog, and most of all, a well behaved dog knows his place in the pack and is a pleasure to be around.

Obedience is part of pack leader establishment. YOU are the trainer and this makes you the leader. How, you ask? By being the one teaching the dog you automatically are taking on the role of leader. Like in the NO! lesson you are leader because you are establishing the role the dog plays under your commands. You are teaching Rex what is expected of him.

OK, for our lesson you are going to need a training collar. * See the collars and pick a collar that you will be using for all your lessons. *

You will also need one 6 foot long leather leash that is 1/2 inch wide. Anything wider is uncomfortable to work with.

We will also be incorporating two verbal commands in this lesson. SIT & STAY.

Please note that ALL verbal commands are the same as in the NO lesson. Firm, short and commanding, but never yelling.

With your dog ready with collar and leash I want you to find a suitable area to work in where there are few distractions and no interruptions.

Your dog will always be working off your left side. This NEVER varies. All commands are off the left. You will learn a couple things before we start.

One is that timing is everything. You must learn that when you have to correct a command that isn't executed properly, the correction must be exactly when he does not listen or the correction will be useless.

This correction is called a 'check'.

You are going to learn how to hold the leash. This is very important as proper application of the aids will depend on how you hold your leash.

Position of your hands is also important. Pay attention to the photos for correct position of the aids.

I want you to put Rex on your left side and have him standing.

Take the leash in your right hand and place the leash across your palm and hook the loop over your thumb.

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Keeping the loop over your thumb I want you to take the left hand and grab the leash halfway down and bring this up toward your right hand and let it form a loop. Kind of like folding the leash in half. Don't hook this new loop over your thumb, but simply grasp this with your right hand and hold it firmly. You will have a small bit of looped leash hanging now out of the bottom of your right hand.

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Keeping your left hand on the leash, this is the proper set up to give the commands with as little room for Rex to misbehave as possible. You don't want excess leash because this is only an invitation for Rex to get out of your control. You want to keep him close to your side. You do not want the leash tight between his neck and your hand.


Now, I want you to raise your right hand with the leash in position until it is without any slack and take you left hand at the dog's left side, thumb across his back, and fingers by his groin. At the same time say SIT! in unison and give a gentle 'check' up and back with the leash in your right hand while you left hand guides the dog into the SIT close by your left leg and his front feet aligned with yours.



Let the leash loose (but be ready to give a 'check' if necessary) and say STAY in a firm voice.

He should be sitting comfortably like this now. Note the leash is slack and the handler is also relaxed?


Here's the 'check' from the side view. (It was really hard showing this for you all because Goliath is so well trained. He was wondering why we checked him here, that's why he's looking up at Matt) :

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Say, 'good boy'.

Don't be in a hurry to take your left hand away once Rex sits for you. Often the dog will get up as soon as he thinks he can get away with something. Simply give praise while he remains sitting still and then release or move him back to standing position.

Always be ready to help Rex keep the correct position until you clearly let him know the he may indeed move. He should stay at the sit until YOU are ready to let him up and not a moment before.

Now I know the above is not going to happen that easily and this is the proper execution of the 'check' and correction if Rex does not want to sit right away.

You are going to give the leash with your right hand a bit of a sharp tug and at the SAME TIME push a bit harder on the dogs rear/back and say, "Rex NO!, SIT!" and give the physical guidance as you are saying the words. Once he sits, say STAY. When you say STAY I want you to take your hand off the lead and put it open, palm facing him and fingers pointing down, RIGHT IN FRONT of his nose and say, STAY at the same time. Return your hand to the leash.

Continue this until he gets it and sits and stays for a count of 10 seconds.

Sometimes the dog will wander away from your left side and wind up in front of you or he'll even try to wrap himself around your legs. For this very reason is why the proper holding of the leash is so important. With the way I show you how to hold the leash, the dog can only go so far and thus making the correction to go back to your left side so much easier to administer.

If the dog winds up 'out of place', simply walk in a clockwise circle (toward your right hand) and the dog will naturally follow and when you halt, he should be on your left side.

Don't mind G-man's 'splayed legs' in this pic. He's old and a little stiff now.

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This also makes applying SIT easy too, because when you come around full circle and the dog is in the left hand position by your leg simply tug the leash with your right hand, and say SIT! STAY!

Hopefully Rex will have grasped this by now.

Repeat as often as necessary but don't over do it.

This is what a dog sitting properly by your side with a relaxed lead looks like.


We are going to repeat this lesson every day, twice a day for no more than 20 minutes at a time. I want you to end the lesson even if it's a bit early if Rex has 'gotten it'. If he does really good, give lots of praise and stop your lesson until the next lesson rolls around. The worst thing to do is to stop your lesson on a bad note, so if he is giving you a bit of a hard time, the minute he 'gets it' even if it's not perfect, you end the lesson.

If you can do more than two lessons per day, that's all the better! The trick is to never get frustrated and keep your cool with the dog. Don't get upset if he doesn't get it on the first two or three lessons, he will get it! The key is patience and a calm steady voice. If the dog senses your frustration, this will only prolong his disobedience and resistance to learn. It gives a signal of no confidence to him from you and that defeats the whole point of the lessons.

So, if you feel yourself getting upset, stop the lesson! There's always the next one to work on.

Now practice sitting and our next lesson will be to sit and STAY.

Don't get ahead of the lessons and try making him sit everywhere and for every little thing just yet. This will come once a couple more sessions are in. Practice daily for about 20 minutes until he understands exactly what you mean by SIT.

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