The sit command is arguably the most frequently used command when it comes to training dogs. Teaching your dog to sit is easier than teaching him other commands, and is often the first behavior learned during training. Although it is easy, however, there are two methods for teaching your dog to sit that work better than others, and also produce a more positive relationship between you and your dog.
The first method of training your dog to sit involves lots of positive reinforcement in the way of providing treats. The object is to teach your dog to sit without actually forcing him to sit, which works more often than it doesn’t. Sit down in front of your dog and hold the treat up in the air, about six inches above his nose. Tell him to sit. Since you’re holding the street above him, he will most likely sit down to view it better and to be comfortable. As soon as those haunches hit the floor, reward him with the treat.
This method of teaching your dog to sit might take a while, but eventually he will associate sitting with treats. Make sure, however, that your dog only sits to get the treat; if he lays down, he must stand up and sit again before he gets the reward.
The second method of teaching your dog to sit involves actually forcing your dog to sit. When you give them command, press down on the dog’s buttocks until he sits. You might have to hold his chin or use a collar and leash to ensure that he sits rather than lays down, but this method is just as effective. When your dog sits, immediately give him a treat and reward him with praise. Do this several times each day until you don’t need to touch your dog to get him to sit.
In most cases, it is most effective to give audible cues to teach your dog to sit. Some owners prefer motions as cues, but these can become confusing. Further, teaching your dog to sit by giving the audible command will help him to differentiate between that and commands to lay, heel, shake or roll over. Once you start teaching your dog multiple tricks, he will need an easy way to tell the difference.
The most important thing to remember when teaching your dog to sit is that you cannot reward behavior other than the act requested: Sitting. If he lays down or stands right back up, you’ll need to give the command again and again until he follows it exactly.
Some dog owners prefer to use choke collars or electrical collars during this process. I wouldn’t recommend it because you want your training sessions to be positive rather than negative. Further, if you use too much negative reinforcement when training your dog to sit, he will eventually begin to resent the training sessions and may exhibit aggressive behaviors in return.