Perfect Puppy Training Book – Chapter 6 – Basic Commands (Part 3)
Chapter 6 – Basic Commands (Part 3)
Teaching your puppy to sit will solve a lot of behavioral issues. A puppy can’t bolt out the door if she’s sitting. She can’t jump on your guests if she’s sitting, either. Let’s cover the basics to teaching her the sit command:
- Hold a treat in one hand by your puppy’s nose. Give the cue “
, sit.” Use a friendly voice. Slowly move the treat between her eyes, up over her head, back toward her shoulders. You’re luring her into the right position, and you’re also teaching her a hand signal. Only go as fast as her nose follows. If your treat is over her back, and she’s looking straight ahead, you’ve lost her. Try again.
- As your puppy’s head goes up to follow the treat, her rear should lower to the ground. Keep watch. The second she sits, mark “Yes!” and give her the treat.
- Praise her for a few seconds, but be sure to use a soft voice. If your voice is too enthusiastic, she may be tempted to get up in excitement.
- Release her with your “Okay!” cue. Do not reward her at this time—all her rewards should come when she’s sitting, not when she’s getting up.
- When your puppy is sitting for a few seconds, it’s time to train her to sit for longer periods. It’s also time to stop using a treat as a lure to get her to sit. However, you will still give her a treat to reward her for sitting.
- Have some treats ready in one hand. Give the cue to sit. With an empty hand, use the same motion you’ve been using all along: Start at your puppy’s nose, and go between her eyes and up over her head toward her shoulders. (Tip: Puppies learn hand signals before they learn verbal ones. While your puppy may not have quite figured out that the word “sit” means that you want her to place her rear on the ground, she may understand that your hand motion over her head means that very thing.)
- When she sits, mark “Yes!” Take a treat from your other hand and give it to her.
- Watch your puppy closely. She’ll tell you if she’s going to get up. Is her ear twitching? Is she looking or leaning away from you? Is she starting to sniff the ground? These are all signs that she’s growing bored or getting distracted. If you see them, take action quickly. Before she moves, mark “Yes!” and give her another treat. This will teach her that she gets rewarded the longer she sits.
- Repeat this process a few times, then release with “Okay!”
- Gradually work up to longer times. Don’t rush it. Smaller steps in training mean bigger results.
Troubleshooting: What if your puppy gets up before you’ve given the release cue? Don’t tell her to sit again, and don’t tell her “No!”. She’ll just interpret this as attention, and you only want to give her attention for performing the behavior, not getting up. Instead, lure her back into position. Slowly move the treat between her eyes, up over her head, and back toward her shoulders. The second she sits, mark “Yes!” and give her the treat. Next time, don’t wait so long between rewards. You may have pushed her too far, too fast. Back up a bit and gradually work up to longer times.
Incorporating Sit into Everyday Life
Once your puppy learns to sit, make it a part of her everyday life.
- Ask her to sit while you prepare her food. Set the food bowl down, then release her with “Okay!” so that she can eat.
- Ask her to sit at the door. Open the door, then release her with “Okay!”
- Ask her to sit in her crate while you open the crate door. Once you open the crate door, release her to come out of her crate with “Okay!”
If you train your puppy using everyday life situations, she’ll learn manners for those situations. You’ll end up with a puppy that sits at doors, sits for her food, and sits to be petted.
Troubleshooting: What if your puppy gets up before you’ve set the food bowl down or opened the door? If she gets up before you’ve put the bowl down, just hold it back up and say nothing. If she gets up before you’ve released her to go out the door, just quickly shut the door again. (Don’t catch her in it!) Give her a few seconds to figure it out. If she doesn’t, use your hand signal to remind her to sit. Then, start to lower the bowl or open the door again. If she gets up again, hold the bowl back up or shut the door again. She’ll soon learn that nothing happens unless she’s sitting.
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