The sit command is one of the most basic training exercises to teach your dog. It is an excellent way to control your new friend in many situations and will also build confidence in a young dog. The teaching and use of this command will help reaffirm basic obedience as well as helping to resolve behavioral problems such as dominance issues (read my alpha dog article for more information on dominance). You should begin the exercise in a quiet location, free from distractions. Call your dog to you and show him a favourite treat that you’re holding in your hand. Make sure you have your dog’s attention and have more treats ready in your pocket. Hold the treat in front of your dog’s nose, then lift the treat slightly, and move it backwards, a few centimeter’s over his his head. If done correctly, this should encourage your dog to naturally lift his head, bend his back legs and lower his bottom, taking him into the sit position. As he sits down, say “sit” firmly and calmly. Always use the same command in the same tone of voice. As soon as your dog has successfully sat down, say “good dog” and give him the treat. If he fails to sit down, simply try again. It may be useful to try start training just before your dog’s dinner time so he is hungry and eager for the treat. DO NOT chastise your dog if he gets it wrong. It is your responsibility to communicate with him correctly and he should be praised for good behavior, not punished for misunderstanding you. Once your dog has mastered the sit command, you can gradually increase the levels of distraction around him, and slowly substitute praise (saying “good dog” and patting him) for treats. Ultimately, your dog should respond to the command in a busy environment without treats, but be patient as this will take time to master.

Once your dog has mastered the sit command, it is time to move onto the down command.