Teaching your dog to sit on command is one of the foundation rules of dog training and education. It's also very important that they are able to do so in certain situations. Let's learn about the training technique through positive reinforcement.
Today we explore the topic of training your dog to sit on command using positive reinforcement.
The 'sit' command through positive reinforcement
Positive reinforcement is based on the rewarding of good behaviour. Dogs are driven by a desire to please and therefore they will carry out an order because they want to, not because they have to - even if this is driven by a desirable treat.
The 'sit' command is one of the primary commands when first training a dog. As the sitting position is a natural pose for dogs, it is also one of the easiest, therefore a perfect opportunity to use positive reinforcement.
Teaching the 'sit' command
Patience will always be required when training a dog for any command. Always work with high quality, low calorie treats so as to avoid excess calories, and ensure you are in an environment they are comfortable in.
First, take the treat in your hand and stand in front of your pet. Depending on their size, you might want to squat to get closer.
Place this hand about 10cm in front of your dog's head (it is likely you'll attract their attention with the treat alone). Once they are looking at it, slowly raise your hand above their head. Your dog should follow your hand upward, encouraging them to sit back on their haunches in order to keep their eyes on the treat. At this moment, say 'sit' and reward your dog with the treat and a 'good boy/girl' comment.
You may also like to use a clicker as another means of teaching this command.
The command-reward association
As with humans, there is nothing quite like a reward after completing a task; therein lies a sense of purpose, achievement and satisfaction. Dogs are similar in this way - the idea of pleasing you, their primary care giver, is of utmost importance to them (despite those cheeky days).
The process of the 'sit' command is to associate the command (the dog's effort) with the reward. This process should be repeated several times in one go, however always respect your dog's pace - it's important to be patient with them.
Over time, you will be able to reduce the treats as they begin to associate the command being asked of them with the concept of reward. A simple 'good girl/boy' and a pat will help to ensure they feel acknowledged and rewarded for their behaviour when treats are no longer used.
Also remember to train your dog in different places and environments to ensure you have all bases covered i.e. around children, in the street, visiting other people's houses, etc.
You've just got started...
Once your dog is comfortable with the sit command, the world is your oyster. Some tricks may take a little more time, patience and effort, but the reward for both of you will be worth it.
Learn how to teach your to high-five and roll over here.
What tricks can your dog do? Tell us in the comments below!