Instant Dog Traning

Monday, August 13, 2007

Dog Training - Start Training Your Dog With the Sit Command

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Facing the daunting task of training your dog, the first command you should tackle is sit. All other commands logically follow sit to your dog, and it is so easy to teach and learn that it is the perfect starting point for behavior training success.

The purpose of training a dog to sit is to place it in a calm, ready stance where she is prepared to follow your other commands. The sit stance is also a non-threatening stance in social situations. For your training session you will need her collar, her leash, and a bunch of soft, bite-sized training treats.

Dog training should be fun and rewarding for both you and the dog, so setting the stage for learning removes distractions and possible frustration. Walk your dog on a leash for a while to release nervous energy, and select a training location where other pets and people will not draw her attention. The training location should be familiar to her and provide good footing, preferably carpet or grass.

Once in your chosen training area, keep her standing on the leash with the collar high on her neck. Stand in front of her in a calm, assertive pose. Take the leash in the hand furthest from her, and a training treat in the closest hand. Let her see the treat.

At this point, you want her standing calmly with attention on the training treat. If she becomes excited, wait for her to calm down. Keep a slight pressure on the leash to prevent her from sitting or lying down before she is commanded.

Once she remains standing calmly and has her attention fixed on you (and the training treat), simultaneously move the hand with the treat over her head to a position behind her ears, relax the pressure on the leash, and say, “Sit.” She will want to keep the treat in sight, so will either back up, or lower her haunches in a perfect sit.

If she backs up, do not react. Just reset in front of her and start the exercise again. You may have to repeat this training exercise a few times before she becomes lazy and sits rather than backs up. Only a dog can actually be rewarded by being lazy!

Reward her for sitting if, and only if, she fully sits. Don’t reward a half-sit, don’t reward the sitting motion, and don’t reward a sit that wasn’t done on command. When she does sit on command, reward her instantly by giving her the treat and with a reward word such as “yes!” or “good girl!”

The first perfect sit is a glorious thing, but you have to realize that you still have not trained your dog to sit. From her perspective, she has just randomly received a reward. To make the connection between the sit and the reward in her mind will take many, many repetitions of this exercise.

Keep your training sessions short. Five minutes is a long time for your dog to pay rapt attention; she’ll quickly start to become frustrated. Take a break and play for a while or knock off for the day and train again tomorrow. Remember, she will need days to learn her lessons, not hours.

Behavior training is a lot of fun for both you and your dog. She gets ample opportunities to please the boss, and you get to spend time with your best friend. Since it is easy to teach, easy to learn, and the building block for all other training, the sit command is the perfect first bonding exercise.

Brock Lorber is a dog lover and co-author of the Pampered Pooch newsletter. You can find more dog health care and training tips at his website,

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