Understanding Your Dog For Dummies
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The Sit command is one of the simpler and yet most useful commands you can teach your dog. It gives you a wonderfully easy way to control your pet pooch when you need to keep him in one place.

Teaching your dog what the word sit means is quite easy and quick:

  1. Show your dog a small, bite-sized treat, holding it just a little in front of his eyes, slightly over his head.

  2. Say “Sit” as you bring your hand above your dog’s eyes, about two inches above his head.

    Proper hand placement is important to training your dog to sit.
    Proper hand placement is important to training your dog to sit.

    When your dog looks up at the treat, he should naturally sit.

    Putting your hand in the right place is important. If your hand is too high, your dog will jump up; if it’s too low, he won’t sit.

  3. When your dog sits, give him the treat and tell him what a good doggy he is.

    Praise him without petting him. If you pet him at the same time as you praise him, he’ll probably get up, when you really want him to sit.

    If your dog doesn’t respond on his own, say “Sit” again and physically place him into a sit position by placing your left hand under his tail and behind his knees and your right hand on his chest, and tuck him into a sit. Keep your hands still and count to five before giving him the treat.

  4. Practice making your dog sit five times in a row for five days.

    Some dogs catch on to this idea so quickly that they sit in front of their owner whenever they want a treat.

When your dog understands what the word “Sit” means, you can start to teach him to obey your command to sit:

  1. Put the treat in your right hand and keep it at your side.

  2. Put one or two fingers, depending on the size of your dog, of your left hand through the training collar at the top of his neck, palm facing up, and tell him to sit.

    If he sits, give him a treat and tell him how good he is while taking your hand out of the collar. If he doesn’t sit, pull up on his collar and wait until he sits, and then praise and reward him with a treat.

  3. Practice until your dog sits on command — without your having to pull up on or touch the collar.

  4. Give your pooch a treat and praise him for every correct response, keeping him in position to the count of five.

As your dog demonstrates that he has mastered sitting on command, start rewarding him every other time, then rewarding him randomly — just every now and then. Strange but true for dogs and people, a random reward is the most powerful reinforcement. It’s based on the premise that hope springs eternal.

Now when your buddy wants to greet you by jumping up, tell him to sit. When he does, praise him, scratch him under the chin, and then release him. Following this simple method consistently, you can change your dog’s greeting behavior from trying to jump on you to sitting to be petted.

About This Article

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About the book authors:

Stanley Coren is best known to the public for his popular books on dogs and general psychological issues. However, within the scientific world, he's also a highly respected scientist, a professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia, and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. Many professional associations have recognized Coren's work with service dogs, and he's received awards from several major police dog organizations, including the California Canine Narcotic Dog Association and the British Columbia Police Canine Association. He's also been featured in publications and on TV shows, including Oprah, Good Morning America, and the Today show. Sarah Hodgson is a dog and puppy behavior expert and the author of many bestselling books on dog training. Her positive techniques help dogs become well-behaved family members. She is a behavior consultant and education facilitator at the Adopt-A-Dog shelter in Armonk, New York, where she holds training and socialization programs, conditioning each of the dogs within a fully decorated home environment before their formal adoption. Hodgson writes for the Huffington Post, and collaborates on articles for Parenthood, Prevention, and Country Living magazines, as well as The New York Times. Hodgson is frequently featured as a dog training specialist on television, including on NBC, CBS, and Animal Planet. She has worked with the dogs of many famous people, including Katie Couric, and Richard Gere.

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