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Positive Dog Parenting

by Rolan Tripp, DVM and Susan Tripp, MS/P

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Luring to Sit

Food held too high!

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Why teach sit?

Teaching your dog to "sit" on instruction is one of the most versatile and important behaviors your dog can learn.

The "sit" instruction can be used to shape a multitude of desirable behaviors. 

Sitting is a deference posture that reinforces the dog's status in the family based on the innate social structure of the dog.

There are several methods of teaching the dog to sit, none of which rely on physical punishment or reprimands.
Asking the dog to sit is like asking the dog to say, "Please."

Luring the dog to sit

For this method, you hold at treat at the dog's nose and move SLOWLY backwards to cause the dog's head to tilt back. Soon it is more comfortable for the dog to sit, at which time he or she is given the food treat and praised in a calm voice.

The most common mistake made during this process is to hold the food too high resulting in the dog jumping up for it. The food must be held directly in front of the dog's nose and lips.


A second common mistake is to allow the dog to grab the food out of the hand instead of taking it gently. 


If the dog grabs too aggressively or makes teeth contact, then hold the food inside a closed hand. Bring the closed hand forward and turn your wrist and open your hand to allow the dog to eat the food.


The goal is for the dog to learn that being gentle results in getting the food, whereas being aggressive results in no food.

Hand signals

Dog's are more tuned into body language than to verbal language. Your dog will often learn a hand signal before learning a verbal cue.  To combine the verbal cue with a visual cue for "sit," turn an open palm toward you, keep your elbow at your side, and raise your palm up from your waist to your shoulder. 


Read, Puppy Off Leash Training

Pet Professional Tip

Take a few moments to teach puppies (or even adult dogs) how to "sit" while they are waiting in the lobby or exam room.  If the pet is nervous remember to use very tasty treats!


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