How To Teach Sit

How to Teach Your Dog to Sit And Stay

How enjoyable is it for you to take Fido out in public especially if you need to stop for any period of time.  Wouldn’t it be much nicer if he just held a nice sit/stay while you chatted with a friend, waited at the vet, or  or shopped for his treats at the doggie store  

Tricks are fun and entertaining– right?  Well, of course they are — but not when it matters most.  When an owner expects the dog to comply and he doesn’t — everyone is frustrated.  Letting your dog get away with doing tricks on their terms can lead to other problems or just leaving Fido at home or in his crate because it’s not fun to take him anywhere.  

It is a common complaint!  “My dog won’t listen.”   “He knows how to sit but he won’t do it!”  Or they say “he’ll do it for a treat but he won’t stay. “

Sit is not a trick.   It’s a command.    I know — commands sound so strict!  It’s really not — if taught properly and rewarded well — your dog will learn what do to do on their own, demonstrate it right the first time when asked, and actually find it a relaxing position and enjoy being out with you!   You’ll also enjoy your dog a lot more.   In fact, dogs are so pattern oriented, if done properly and consistently, your dog will start doing the command without being told in certain situations.

It requires you, the owner,  is also become consistent expectation and accountability, and in your delivery/timing of praise and reward. 

I teach Sit and Down with a built in stay so that the dog stays in position until they are either given a new command or released from being under a command.

We teach the dog when walking nicely on a leash, or in a more formal heel that when the owner/handler stops walking, the do should stop automatically and sit.

There are many useful reasons for the auto-sit!   

  • Greeting a neighbor or stranger on the street and stop to chat for a moment.

  • You stop at the mailbox or answer a phone call

  • You’re pushing a baby stroller and walking your dog and need to stop to attend the baby

  • What if you fall down and injure yourself and aren’t able to hold the leash?

All these are great scenarios in which having your dog sit and wait politely for your next command can make your outing much more enjoyable and less worrisome because your dog is not making you crazy trying to head off in a different direction or wrapping the leash around you.

I encourage you to think about how you train your own dog!   What you teach, how consistent you are and what your goals really are for the dog?    It generally only takes a few minutes a day to achieve great results  and can be worked into every day life!  


Teaching Sit:

  • Let your dog know that you have a treat in your right hand before closing the treat within your fist.

  • Give the verbal command: Sit!

  • Then, raise your closed fist slowly from nose level to slightly above his head, and back just a bit over the top of his head. His nose should follow your hand. As he looks up toward the treat, his bottom should rock back into a sit. Then give the treat say “Good Boy/Girl” and Then Say “Okay!” to release.

Once your dog knows how to sit, begin using it in every day life – for life.   Ask your dog to sit in the following situations – everyday:

  • For food bowl delivery or treats

  • To get his leash on/off

  • At thresholds doors (especially those that access an unfenced area & car exits), also including his crate (video on our youtube channel)

  • To earn affections – if he only gets petted with 4 on the floor, he’ll get better at offering that instead of jumping.


Teaching Sit-Stay:

  • Give the hand signal and verbal command “Sit!”

  • When your puppy sits, say “Good Boy/Girl”. Then with an open palm (fingers closed) facing your puppy say “Stay!”

  • Wait 1-2 seconds before reward and release. As you repeat the skill over the next few day, increase the time you wait before you reward and release. Increase in small increments of 10, 15, 20, 30 seconds.

  • Then randomize the wait each time, alternating between long and short.

Look for our video online training at

Dana Brigman