How to Teach Your Dog to Sit: A Step-by-Step Guide

Are you looking to teach your your beloved companion an essential foundation behavior? Look no further than the “sit” command! As the first command taught in obedience training, “sit” is an important foundation behavior for other commands like “stay” and “come“.

Not only is sitting a natural and relaxed position for most dogs, but it’s also a behavior that can help prevent many undesired behaviors such as jumping, digging, and counter-surfing. 

In this step-by-step guide, we’ll walk you through the process of teaching your dog to sit using positive reinforcement techniques. From introducing the command and luring your dog with treats to adding the verbal cue and troubleshooting common issues, we’ve got you covered. 

So grab some treats and let’s get started on teaching your pup to be a super sitter!

white dog sitting on grass outside daytime

Introducing the “Sit” Command

Before you can start teaching your dog to sit, it’s vital to understand the basics of this behavior and why it’s so important.

Why the “Sit” Command is Important

The “sit” command is an essential behavior for dogs of all ages and sizes. Not only is it a basic obedience cue that can help your dog stay safe and well-behaved, but it’s also a versatile behavior that can be used in various contexts. 

For example, teaching your dog to sit can help prevent jumping, begging, and other undesired behaviors, as well as providing a way to control your dog’s movement in situations like vet visits or grooming appointments.

Once your dog has learned the “sit” command, it can be used as a starting point for teaching other commands. For example, you can teach your dog to “down” by asking them to sit and then luring them into a lying down position.

In addition to these practical benefits, teaching your dog to sit also strengthens your bond and communication with your companion. By using positive reinforcement techniques to train the “sit” command, you’ll build trust and confidence with your dog and provide mental stimulation and exercise.

Overall, the “sit” command is a fundamental behavior that every dog should learn. With patience, consistency, and plenty of positive reinforcement, you can teach your dog to be a super sitter in no time!

Step 1: Luring Your Dog with Treats

Using positive reinforcement techniques, we’ll show you how to lure your dog into the sit position with treats. This is a great way to introduce your dog to the behavior and create a positive association with the “sit” command. So grab some tasty treats and let’s get started!


Use high-value treats to make the training sessions more rewarding, or small, soft treats that your dog loves to increase motivation.

Using Positive Reinforcement to Teach Your Dog to “Sit”

Using positive reinforcement is an effective training technique that rewards good behavior with something the dog wants, such as treats, toys, or affection.

The key to using positive reinforcement effectively is timing. You want to reward your dog as soon as they perform the desired behavior. This will help your dog associate the behavior with the reward and encourage them to repeat it in the future.


Start in a quiet environment with minimal distractions to help your dog focus.

Here’s how to use positive reinforcement to teach your dog to sit:

  1. Hold a treat in front of your dog’s nose.
  2. Slowly move the treat up and back above their head toward the tail.
  3. As your dog follows the treat with their nose, their bottom will naturally lower to the ground.
  4. Once their bottom touches the ground, immediately reward them with the treat and praise.
  5. Repeat this process several times until your dog consistently follows the treat into a sitting position.


Always reward your dog immediately after they sit, even if it’s not a perfect sit.

Step 2: Adding the Verbal Command

Now that your dog is starting to understand how to sit on command, it’s time to add a verbal cue. By adding a verbal command, you’ll be able to ask your dog to sit without the need for a treat or lure every time.

Using a verbal cue for “sit” is important because it allows you to communicate with your dog from a distance, without needing to use physical cues. It’s also an important step towards teaching your dog more advanced commands and behaviors.

Saying “Sit” as Your Dog Starts to Sit

Here’s how to add the verbal command for “sit”:

  1. Hold a treat in front of your dog’s nose to get their attention.
  2. Say “sit” just before you start to move the treat up and back.
  3. Once your dog’s bottom touches the ground, immediately give them the treat and praise. you can also use a clicker and click at this point.
  4. Repeat this process several times until your dog consistently sits when you say “sit” and lure them with the treat.

There are different ways to teach the ‘sit’ command, but one of the most commonly recommended methods is the one we mentioned above: to use a treat to lure the dog into a sitting position while giving the verbal command ‘sit.’ This method is generally considered to be the most effective and reliable way to teach the behavior.


Avoid using too much force or pushing down on your dog’s bottom, as this can be uncomfortable and even cause injury.
brown and black puppies sitting in the park

Step 3: Reinforcing Your Dog’s Training

Now that your dog has learned how to sit and respond to the verbal cue, it’s important to reinforce their training through repetition and practice. Consistency is key to ensuring your dog continues to respond reliably to the “sit” command.

Here are some essential tips to reinforce your dog’s training:

  • Practice the “sit” command in a variety of settings, both indoors and outdoors.
  • Gradually increase the duration of the sit before giving the reward to help your dog learn to hold the position for longer.
  • Use positive reinforcement consistently, rewarding your dog with treats, toys, or affection when they perform the desired behavior.
  • Avoid using the “sit” command in a negative context, such as when disciplining your dog or when they’re in trouble.
  • Continue to use your dog’s name consistently in a positive context to reinforce their training.
  • Practice the “sit” command in different environments and situations to help your dog generalize the behavior.
  • Keep training sessions short, around 5-10 minutes, to prevent your dog from becoming bored or frustrated.
  • Vary the rewards your dog receives for sitting, such as treats, toys, or praise. This will keep training sessions interesting and rewarding for your pup.

Step 4: Gradually Phasing Out Treats

Now that your dog has learned how to sit and respond to the verbal cue, it’s time to start phasing out the use of treats. This will help your dog learn to respond to the command even when there are no treats available.

To begin phasing out treats, start by using them less frequently. Instead of giving a treat every time your dog sits, try giving them a treat every other time, then every third time, and so on. 

Once your dog is responding consistently every other time, start using treats every third time, then every fourth time, and so on. Eventually, you should be able to phase out treats altogether and rely on praise and affection to reinforce the behavior.

If your dog starts to lose interest or stops responding reliably, go back to using treats more frequently and then try phasing them out again.

By following these tips, you can help your dog become a super sitter who responds reliably to the “sit” command even when there are no treats involved.

Read more: Choosing the Right Training Toy for Your Dog

Common Issues with the “Sit” Command and Solutions

If you’re teaching your dog to sit, you may encounter some common issues during the training process. Here’s a list of some common issues with simple, yet effective solutions:

#1. Dog Doesn’t Understand the Command

Solution: Use clear, consistent language when giving the “sit” command and avoid using variations of the command such as “sit down” or “sit pretty. Use hand signals or physical prompts to help your dog understand what is being asked of them.

#2. Dog is Easily Distracted

Solution: Try training in a quieter or more controlled environment. Gradually increase the level of distractions as your dog becomes more proficient with the “sit” command. Use high-value treats or toys to keep your dog engaged during the training sessions.

#3. Dog Struggles to Sit for Long Periods

Solution: Incorporate “duration training” into your dog’s training regimen. Start by asking your dog to hold the “sit” position for a few seconds and gradually increase the duration over time, building up to several minutes. Reward during the “long” sit rather than only at the end, with praises such as “good” or “yes” to let the dog know they’re doing well and follow it up with a treat or praise.

#4. Dog is Too Excited

Solution: Excitement from the owner can often translate to excitement in the dog, so keeping a calm demeanor can help your dog remain calm and focused. Use a consistent physical cue or hand signal when giving the “sit” command, as well as consistent positive reinforcement.

#5. Dog is Not Motivated by Treats or Praise

Solution: Try different types of treats or toys to find what motivates your dog. Once you’ve identified what motivates your dog, use positive reinforcement techniques such as treats or praise to encourage your dog to sit. In addition, try to keep training sessions fun and engaging by using high-value treats, short sessions, including playtime, and mixing up the routine.

If looking into clicker training, start by selecting the right clicker, after which you can start trying some easy clicker training techniques for beginners.

Interested in learning more about basic obedience training for your loyal dog? Check out our other helpful guides on positive reinforcement training, as well as choosing effective rewards, and common mistakes to avoid

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