Teaching your dog to sit

By Honor Coulter | training sit behaviour puppy

How to teach the “Sit”

Start the training in a quiet area so that your dog is more likely to stay focused without becoming distracted.

  • Hold between your thumb and fingers a tasty treat

  • Hold the treat in front of your dog’s nose so they can smell the treat, creating a nice clear hand signal at the same time.

  • Slowly draw the treat over the top of the dogs head, their nose should follow – as their head goes up their bottom should lower towards the floor.  As their bottom touches the floor immediately give the dog the treat.  The dog is following the lure of the treat into the sit position.  Repeat this luring method three times with a treat in your hand.

  • Then repeat the same hand signal and hand movement going over the dogs head but without the treat in your hand; once your dog’s bottom touches the floor then get the treat out of your pocket and give it to the dog.  It is important that your dog learns to perform the sit and earn a treat afterwards otherwise they get very clever at sniffing out if you have a treat in your hand and if not may not actually sit down!

  • Once you can give the hand signal and 8/10 get a reliable sit, with the treat coming afterwards (so without actually having it in your hand) then you can add the word to what you would like to call the behaviour – the obvious cue word is “Sit”!
  • If you say the word “Sit” then do the hand signal and hand movement and reward the dog with the treat when his or her bottom hots the floor, then they will start to associate the action with the word. Once you introduce the word ‘sit’, make sure you only give the reward if the behaviour happens after you say this cue.

Keep practicing! Once your dog knows the behaviour, then repeat your training somewhere a little more distracting, such as in the garden. Again, once this is 100%, repeat your training someone a little more exciting. Over time, you can build up so that your dog can ‘Sit’ whatever else is happening around you!


Check out Dogs Trust Dog School for fun classes led by experienced trainers around the UK. Our classes are science led, use only positive reward based training and help you build foundations with your dog to ensure a strong bond and avoid future problems.