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How to Train Your Dog to Sit in 7 Steps

Written by MasterClass

Last updated: Aug 4, 2020 • 2 min read

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Brandon McMillan Teaches Dog Training

The most basic training command to teach your dog is the “sit” command. This training command is a great way to build a quick rapport between you and your dog, and it lays the groundwork for a wide variety of other commands.

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Brandon McMillan Teaches Dog TrainingBrandon McMillan Teaches Dog Training

Expert animal trainer Brandon McMillan teaches you his simple, effective training system to build trust and control with your dog.

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How to Train Your Dog to Sit in 7 Steps

Whether you have a new puppy or an untrained old dog, these steps can help you teach your dog to sit:

  1. Choose the right setting. For your dog’s training, you should choose a comfortable, distraction-free spot where you are in control—avoid teaching commands at the dog park, for example. All training should be done “on leash,” so that you have control over your dog and can help keep your dog’s attention on you.
  2. Keep a foot on the leash. Keeping a foot on the leash helps keep your dog in place. This action is not meant to force your dog to the ground or choke them until they obey. Rather, you should keep a foot on the leash with enough lead to let your dog move, but not so much that they can jump up on you.
  3. Place your treat hand above your dog’s head. For the sit command, hold a dog treat between your first two fingers and place your hand palm-side up at a 45-degree angle about six inches from your dog’s nose. This placement encourages your dog to move into a sitting position naturally in order to better see the treat.
  4. Say “sit.” As your dog moves into the sitting position to better see the treat, use the verbal cue “sit,” making sure to enunciate. Say it with emphasis. Make it a command, not a request.
  5. Reward your dog. As soon as your dog sits, reward them with the treat and heavy praise, like petting and saying “good dog.” Be sure that they’re in a true sit position, rather than hovering their rear end slightly above the ground—by praising only when they’re completely seated, your dog will learn to associate being seated with the praise.
  6. Repeat. Repeat the process for up to 15 minutes, always making sure to reset your dog so they are under control and attentive before you begin the command. After 15 minutes, give your dog a break—their attention span usually isn’t long enough for more than short training sessions. Train your dog in 10- to 15-minute sessions three times a day, and always make sure to end each session on a good note with your dog successfully performing the technique.
  7. Increase the difficulty. As your dog gets better at the technique, remove your foot from the leash, or train in a spot with slightly more distractions to help them learn to focus their attention on you.
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Want to Learn More About Training the Goodest Boy or Girl?

Your dream of having a dog who understands words like “sit,” “stay,” “down,” and—crucially—”no” is just a MasterClass All-Access Pass away. The only things you’ll need to train up a well-behaved pup are your laptop, a big bag of treats, and our exclusive instructional videos from superstar animal trainer Brandon McMillan.

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